Isles hand Leafs OT loss

Toronto Maple Leafs' Jean-Sebastien Giguere makes a save on New York Islanders' Matt Moulson....

Toronto Maple Leafs' Jean-Sebastien Giguere makes a save on New York Islanders' Matt Moulson. (REUTERS/Mark Blinch)

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:44 PM ET

In the aftermath of all the controversy, the heartbreak and the extreme bitterness associated with the first Maple Leafs loss of the season, it would be easy to summarize Monday night’s events simply as “Same ol’ Leafs.”

It would be easy to say, all right.

It would also be wrong.

Yes, the parade plans temporarily have been put on hold and dreams of an undefeated season have been squashed, all because of a 2-1 overtime loss to the New York Islanders at the Air Canada Centre.

But after having one goal waved off, a potential penalty shot against the Islanders not called and consistently being turned away by a 41-year-old goalie who has been their nemesis in the past, the Leafs did not allow themselves to crumble.

In recent seasons, that’s exactly what would have happened. We’ve seen it time and time again.

Not this time.

“It’s not the past,” coach Ron Wilson told a roomful of reporters after the Leafs overtime loss to the Isles. “Stop talking about it.”

He has a point.

That was then. This is now.

And, after dealing with adversity all night long, these Leafs refused to wave the blue-and-white flag of surrender. Sure enough, after being thwarted by the referees and by Islanders goalie Dwayne Roloson , their perseverance finally paid off when Phil Kessel finally tied the score at 1-1 with just 2:05 remaining in regulation, ensuring the Leafs of at least a single point in each of their first five games.

In the end, another controversial call — this time a goaltender interference minor against Leafs defenceman Brett Lebda in overtime — led to John Tavares’s winner at 3:36 of the extra period.

But the mere fact that this team salvaged a point when it could have very well sagged, well, consider that an indication that times are changing in Leafland.

“We have to stick with the positive — at least we got a point,” goalie J-S Giguere said. “Now we need to bounce back.

“The good thing is, the guys are mad about the loss.”

The Leafs are now 4-0-1 on the season heading into Thursday’s game against the New York Rangers.

As much as the Isles have struggled in recent years, they always have seemed to have the Leafs number, something that assuredly has frustrated the Toronto brass to no end.

That certainly was the case in 2009-10 when the Leafs dropped three of four meetings to the Islanders, none more memorable than a 4-3 shootout victory over Toronto on the Air Canada Centre last Nov. 23. Roloson easily was the star in that game, turning aside 58 shots en route to leading his team to victory.

On this night, the Isles opened the scoring at 2:17 of the second on a beautiful three-way passing play between Frans Neilson, John Tavares and Matt Moulson, who finished off the play by beating Leafs goalie J-S Giguere to put the visitors up 1-0.

Cue the controversy.

Late in the period, the Leafs appeared to even the game when Versteeg swatted down a fluttering puck at the edge of the Isles crease, then flicked it past Roloson for the apparent tying goal.

But the officials waved it off, ruling the puck had been struck with a high stick.

“Sh---y,” said Versteeg, when asked about the play.

In any event, the Isles one-goal lead remained intact.

Midway through the third period, the Leafs once again felt that they had tied the game when Colby Armstrong banked the puck from behind the net off the back of Roloson.

In the ensuing wild scramble, the puck slithered along the goal line until Tavares finally scooped it away with his glove.

This time, the referees did refer to instant replay, which showed the puck never did actually cross the line. But the Leafs figured they were owed a penalty shot, feeling Tavares put his hand over the puck in the crease.

In the end, their protests went for naught.

But at least they rebounded to scratch out a point, something recent Leaf teams likely would have never done.


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