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Rangers beat Leafs 1-0 in shootout

by John Kreiser

For the first time in more than 43 years, a Toronto goaltender didn't allow a goal at Madison Square Garden. Thanks to Steve Valiquette and Fredrik Sjostrom, that still wasn't enough to get the Leafs a victory.

Vesa Toskala stopped all 32 shots he faced in regulation and overtime Friday night, but Nikolai Zherdev and Sjostrom beat him in the shootout to give the New York Rangers a 1-0 victory and hand the Leafs their third consecutive loss.

Toskala was outdueled by Valiquette, a Toronto native who is now 3-0-0 lifetime against his hometown team after earning his 11th NHL win and third shutout. The Rangers' backup stopped 21 shots, including five in overtime, then foiled Matt Stajan and Jason Blake in the shootout to give the Rangers their sixth victory in seven games this season.

Zherdev scored in the first round of the shootout, Toronto's Nikolai Kulemin tied it in the second round and Sjostrom banked a shot off the post and Toskala's pad to start the third round. Valiquette then got just enough of Blake's wrist shot to deflect it off the post.

"I got a piece with my blocker and it hit the outside of the post," Valiquette said after improving to 4-2 lifetime in shootouts. Toskala is 2-8 all-time in the penalty-shot competition.

It was a disappointing ending for the Leafs, who haven't won at the Garden via shutout since a 6-0 victory on Jan. 10, 1965. The teams hadn't played a scoreless tie in regulation since Dec. 8, 1956, and the Leafs haven't had a shutout victory over the Rangers since winning 6-0 at Toronto on Feb. 15, 1967.

The Leafs have lost three in a row, including two consecutive shootouts, after beating Detroit on opening night. Toskala was perfect through 65 minutes after allowing 12 goals in his last three starts and gave them a chance to win.

"He came up with the saves when we needed them," Wilson said. "He gave us a great effort tonight."

Neither club mustered much consistent offense through two periods. But Toskala was brilliant in the third, when the Rangers outshot the Leafs 13-4 and dominated play so completely that Toronto went nearly 15 minutes before getting a shot on goal. They almost scored 8:40 into the period when Ryan Callahan's deflection of a shot by Scott Gomez hit the post to the left of Toskala, hopped along the goal line, hit the other post — and stayed out.

''I made some good saves and sometimes you need a little luck,'' Toskala said after his 12th NHL shutout. ''Sometimes they stay out and sometimes everything goes in. That's the life of a goalie.''

Valiquette was the star of the overtime, making five saves — three of them during an early power play. He also made a big stop on Niklas Hagman with 20 seconds left in regulation.

"Tonight he made some stellar saves that had to be made for us to win," Rangers coach Tom Renney said.

The Rangers finished the night 0-for-8 on the power play, including one at the end of overtime. The parade to the penalty box frustrated Leafs coach Ron Wilson to no end.

''The calls don't drive me nuts. My team drives me nuts, taking those penalties," Wilson said. ''It's just a lack of discipline. Keep your stick down because we killed ourselves killing penalties."


The start at home was a rarity for Valiquette, who gets most of his limited action in place of starter Henrik Lundqvist on the road. Lundqvist is expected to start Saturday night's game in Detroit.

''I really want to feel as comfortable as possible in this rink," Valiquette said. ''I know that my job and my role on the team is to be ready at all times. I have to add value to the team, no matter if I'm starting or I'm supporting."

He skated off as the first star of the game to chants of ''Vall-ey! Vall-ey!'' from the Garden crowd.

''It gave me goose bumps. Now I know how Henrik feels,'' he said.

Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media was used in this report

Contact John Kreiser at

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