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White Seals A Deserved Win

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
Asif Hossain

December 27, 2009
Mellon Arena
Pittsburgh, PA
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Ian White restored the Leafs lead for the fourth and final time on the night when he scored with a powerful slap shot from the right circle with 1:22 left in regulation time.

The Leafs deserved this result as they never trailed during the game and outplayed the Penguins in the opening and closing periods.  During those two 20 minute frames the Leafs outshot the Pens 20-11 (27-24 overall).

23:06 Beauchemin's total ice time, leading both teams.
7 Goals for Blake in December out of nine in total this season.
3 Number of shots for each of the Penguins' twin superstars Crosby and Malkin.
3-3-1 Leafs record on the second game of back-to-back nights this season.
5 Consecutive scoreless games for Ponikarovsky before getting two assists on Sunday.
1st Star
Lee Stempniak
G A P +/- Shots
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2nd Star
Alexei Ponikarovsky
G A P +/- Shots
0 2 2 0 2
3rd Star
Sidney Crosby
G A P +/- Shots
1 0 1 0 3
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Jason Blake scored his second goal in as many nights. He was a catalyst for Lee Stempniak's three point game and had a role in White's winner, when the forward helped to keep the puck in Pittsburgh's end.

Blake's second period goal had put the Leafs ahead 3-2 against the run of play and was a tremendous momentum boost after Sidney Crosby had tied up the game at 2-2. Blake had a menacing presence during his 13:41 of ice time, racking up five shots and a +2 rating.  

Making his first start since conceding four goals on 10 shots against the Buffalo Sabres on December 18th, Vesa Toskala was sharp in net for the Leafs, stopping 21 of 24 shots.

It wasn't the numbers that made his night impressive, but that Toskala showed a great deal of poise.  In particular, when he stood his ground against last season's NHL leading scorer Evgeni Malkin with 5:23 left in the game as the Russian looked sure to score from close range.

The Leafs showed an impressive level of discipline, limiting their trips to the penalty box to just two on the night.

On one of those penalties, a Matt Stajan hooking call at 7:06 of the second period, Crosby punished the Leafs in just 42 seconds with a highlight reel goal. Having learned their lesson, Leaf players remained out of the penalty box for the entire third period, not giving the Penguins' high powered offence any additional advantages.

Ron Wilson on the effort that led to White game winner:

"Primeau, Blake and Stempniak did a really good job tonight.  I was really happy just the way they competed hard at the end. We didn't sit back and try to take it to overtime, we tried to make something happen at the end of the game." 

Wednesday December 30 @ Oilers
  9:30 PM ET (Sportsnet, AM640)

Game Notes:
The Leafs finish 2009 in Edmonton on Wednesday against an Oilers side that as of Boxing Day had lost six straight games. They will be involved in the Battle of Alberta against the Flames on Monday.

This will be the first meeting this season between the Leafs and Oilers.

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