TORONTO - Joey Crabb is making an early season push to get back up in the Toronto Maple Leafs' lineup.
Crabb scored twice and Jussi Rynnas made 21 saves in his first start of the season Sunday as the Toronto Marlies shut out the Lake Erie Monsters 4-0 in the American Hockey League.
After being cut from the big club during training camp, Crabb has gotten off to a quick start with the Marlies. The Anchorage, Alaska, native has three goals and seven points in four games to start the 2011-12 season.
Crabb is tied now with Joe Colborne, who had an assist, for the Marlies' scoring lead.
Jeff Finger and Jerry D'Amigo had the other goals for Toronto, while Mike Zigomanis added a pair of assists.
James Reid made 23 saves in the loss for the Monsters.
The Marlies swept back-to-back games from the Monsters over the weekend after winning 5-3 on Saturday.
That runs their record to 3-1-0 to start the 2011-12 season. Lake Erie is winless in four games.
Crabb played 48 games with the Leafs last season, scoring three goals and adding 12 assists, and fit in well defensively in mostly third- and fourth-line duty. But he didn't make the Leafs to start the season and was sent down to the Marlies after clearing waivers.
"If you start slacking off and pouting, it's not going to get you anywhere," Crabb said. "Obviously all of us want to get back and you're not going to do that if you don't play the right way.
"Things are going all right now. It's just been falling into place so far."
Head coach Dallas Eakins said Crabb and a number of other Marlies who've seen time with the Leafs are taking the right attitude after finding themselves back in the AHL.
"Joey Crabb has come down here and been excellent," Eakins said. "When you have a guy like Joey Crabb, Darryl Boyce, Keith Aulie and Jeff Finger, guys that have played up, then come down here and play hard. They understand leading, the importance of being a pro and I'm not sure they know any different. It's a great thing for our organization.
"Everybody thinks these guys will be pouting or have a black cloud over their heads. But they're great character guys, and they know it's important for them to stay focused and play well."
Meanwhile, Rynnas posted the shutout in his first start of the season after missing most of training camp due to an ankle injury, allowing Ben Scrivens to start the first three games of the season.
"(Rynnas) has gone through a long haul here with his injury," Eakins said. "He missed a whole bunch of training camp and that throws your conditioning off. He's worked hard at it and he's been frustrated with his injury, but now he's back.
"Suddenly there's a little heat on Scrivens now. You're not just going to inherit the No. 1 job. We want competition all the time, and the goalies enjoy it. It's a friendly one, they support each other, but they want to be pushed by each other, too."
Rynnas admitted to feeling a little rusty to start the game, but he settled down after his teammates gave him a quick 2-0 lead.
"It was my first game and I was a little nervous, so I gave up a couple lazy rebounds early," Rynnas said. "It was a pretty easy game, not too many shots. I made a couple good saves and gave the team a chance to win, which is the most important thing."
The Marlies got off to a quick start, jumping out to a 2-0 lead before the game was six minutes old on similar setups from Zigomanis.
From behind the net, Zigomanis fed Crabb cutting in front of the net and the Marlies' right-winger made a quick deke around Reid to backhand the puck into the open net at 4:39.
Less than a minute later, from the same spot, Zigomanis dished to Finger in the high slot and the former NHL defenceman snapped a low shot past Reid (0-1-0).
Zigomanis now has five points on the season.
With less than a minute left in the period, D'Amigo gave Toronto a 3-0 lead heading into the first intermission after swatting the puck in during a scramble in front of the Monsters' net.
Crabb scored his second of the game at 8:24 of the second period when his shot from the sideboards found its way past Reid.
The Marlies are off until Saturday when they host the Rochester Americans.
Notes: Toronto is 17-15-2 against Lake Erie all-time. ... Five of the Marlies' first nine games are against the Monsters. ... Announced attendance at Ricoh Coliseum was 2,497.