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One Down, One to Go, Leafs beat Islanders 3-0
The Toronto Maple Leafs have only won one game of their last five, and their playoff aspirations were slowly slipping away. Monday night marked the first of their last two games before the all star break, a home at home series with the New York Islanders. The Leafs came out with lots of speed and energy in the first period, something that has been lacking in recent games.
North York - January 24, 2012 - The Toronto Maple Leafs have only won one game of their last five, and their playoff aspirations were slowly slipping away. Monday night marked the first of their last two games before the all star break, a home at home series with the New York Islanders. The Leafs came out with lots of speed and energy in the first period, something that has been lacking in recent games. Matthew Lombardi got the Leafs to a 1-0 lead in the first, but the next period and half would be sloppy for both teams. The Islanders really picked up their game in the third period but Phil Kessel scored for the Leafs to give them the two goal lead. Matthew Lombardi would add his second goal of the game late in the third period. Toronto would win the game by a final score of 3-0, and Jonas Gustavsson picked up another shutout.
Gustavsson, who didn't have much work in the first two periods, ended the game with 25 saves and his third shutout of the month. Toronto once again insulated the Maple Leafs netminder well throughout the game. They kept the Islanders to the outside, blocked shots and boxed out the front of the net. Also, the Leafs penalty kill is still perfect in the new year as they went a full sixty minutes without taking a penalty tonight.
Last week Ron Wilson said that Matthew Lombardi will step up his play in the second half of the season as he eases back into playing in the NHL after injuries kept him out of action for quite some time. He has been rewarded with more ice-time over the last couple of weeks and scored twice to help the Leafs to a win tonight.
Clarke MacArthur found himself on the fourth line tonight, with the least ice-time of any Leaf player. After a few games of sub-par defensive efforts his ice-time was drastically reduced, he played under ten minutes tonight. MacArthur, who showed last year that he can be an effective secondary scorer, is struggling this year in all three zones of the ice. His offensive numbers are down, and he is a minus-1 through 40 games this season.
The two points the Leafs picked up tonight put them up to 53, which ties them with the Washington Capitals for that final playoff spot, and one point behind both the Florida Panthers and the New Jersey Devils. Toronto heads out on the road to face the Islanders tomorrow before the break and take on the Pittsburgh Penguins in another home-at-home series next week. The Penguins, led by Malkin, have 58 points coming off a six game win streak and will prove to be a big test for the Leafs.
The Leafs need to take it one game at a time and look forward to Tuesday night's game in Long Island. Coach Ron Wilson stated that Gustavsson will probably get the start again.
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