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Ducks squeak past Leafs in SO

by Brian Compton
After battling all night to erase a 2-0 deficit and force overtime and a shootout, Toronto Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson decided to make a move not often seen. Due to starting goaltender Vesa Toskala's lack of success in the shootout, Wilson replaced him with backup Curtis Joseph.

Unfortunately for Wilson and the Leafs, the rare move didn't produce a victory.

Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne but scored in the shootout, and the Anaheim Ducks escaped the Air Canada Centre with a 3-2 victory on Tuesday night.

It was the third shootout loss in four games for Toronto, as its inability to get that second point in the breakaway round prompted Wilson to try something different. According to the Leafs' coach, Joseph had been scored on 28 percent of the time in penalty shots while Toskala had been beaten with 54 percent of the attempts against him. Toskala has a 2-9 career mark in shootouts, including 0-2 this season, and has allowed goals on 18 of the 35 chances he's faced since the shootout was adopted for the 2005-06 season.


"Toskala still played a great game, which was expected..."


"The 3rd time in 4 games, the Leafs fall to penalty shots..."

"I was playing the percentages," Wilson said. "I'm not going to hesitate to do that until we get Tosk a little more practice — a different way of thinking on stopping the other team in shootouts. I had nothing to lose."

While the Ducks were still able to come away with the victory, many of them were shocked by Wilson's decision to pull Toskala, who stopped 19 of 21 shots during the game.

"I've never seen it happen before," Perry said. "I saw (Joseph) warming up and I turned to the bench and said, 'They're putting him in?'"

Despite being pulled after playing solidly, Toskala was not upset by Wilson's decision to go with Joseph in the shootout.

"I don't have any problem at all," Toskala said. "As a team, we just have to find a way to get those points because they're going to be huge (at the) end of the season. Today we were trying this. It didn't work."

On the flip side, Joseph was glad he had the opportunity to try to help his team earn a second point in the standings. Toronto has just one win in its first six games this season.

"It's entertainment, right?" Joseph said. "I have had some success at shootouts, but those were two good shots. I've got to like being in that position, at least you can come in and you've got a chance.

"Unfortunately, the quick releases look a little quicker when you've been sitting."

Anaheim took a 1-0 lead on defenseman Francois Beauchemin's team-leading third goal of the season. Beauchemin, who scored two goals all of last season, put Toronto in front 4:36 into the game when he took a pass from Chris Kunitz and fired a slap shot past a screened Toskala.

George Parros put the Ducks up by a pair when he beat Toskala on a breakaway at 9:50 of the first period. The enforcer was able to get around rookie defenseman Luke Schenn and received a nice feed from Brad May that sent him in alone. Parros, who received less than six minutes of ice time, ripped a shot over Toskala's glove to make it 2-0.

"Any time you beat a goalie it feels good," Parros said.

Toronto, however, would shut its opponents down the rest of the way. After peppering Toskala with 14 shots in the opening period, the Ducks managed just four shots in the second and zero in the third.

Nik Antropov cut the deficit in half when he scored his second goal of the season at 8:15 of the second period. With the teams at even strength, Antropov took a pass from Alexei Ponikarovsky and put a backhand shot past Jean-Sebastien Giguere to make it 2-1.

Things were looking bleak for the Maple Leafs, though, as they failed to notch the equalizer despite having two power plays in the third period. Even a 5-on-3 that lasted 32 seconds failed to generate the tying goal.

But with Toskala pulled for an extra skater, Antropov tied the game with just 52.8 seconds remaining. After an initial shot by Ponikarovsky that was denied by Giguere, Antropov was there to stuff home the rebound and send the sellouts crowd into a frenzy.
"We're playing hard each and every night," Antropov said. "I don't know, on the shootouts it seems like luck is just not on our side. We've got to work on it."

While they were disappointed to win the game in regulation, the struggling Ducks were happy to leave the building with any type of victory. Seven games into the season, Anaheim has just two wins.

"We have to start somewhere," Giguere said. "We'll take any two points we can get but we need a better 60-minute effort."

Material from wire services was used in this report.

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