November 28, 2011
Leafs steamroll dead Ducks
By TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency
ANAHEIM - The woeful Anaheim Ducks were easy marks.
The Leafs completed a four-game trip on Sunday night with their third consecutive victory, beating the Ducks 5-2 before an announced crowd of 13,685 at the Honda Center.
Joffrey Lupul had two assists in his first return to southern California after the Leafs acquired him from Anaheim last February.
"It was a great way to finish off the road trip," Lupul said. "We were pretty solid tonight. It has been a lot of travel and we were strong all the way through the third period."
Lupul couldn't be happier and the Ducks, who have won just two of their past 18 games, couldn't be worse.
The Maple Leafs improved to 108-106-34 in the regime of general manager Brian Burke, who was hired three years ago to the day. Toronto has won 14 of its first 24 games. It didn't win its 14th last season until Jan. 1, in its 37th game.
The Leafs were without two more regulars, but against the Ducks, that did not matter a whole lot.
Centre David Steckel, the Leafs' best faceoff man, did not participate in the pre-game warmup after suffering a left pinky injury in Dallas on Friday. Defenceman Carl Gunnarsson was a scratch after taking part in the warmup. Gunnarsson suffered an injury to the fourth finger of his left hand against the Stars.
Mikhail Grabovski, who missed five games with a lower-body injury, was back in uniform and was on a line with Jay Rosehill and Philippe Dupuis. Defenceman Keith Aulie, recalled from the AHL Marlies, made his season debut and was paired with captain Dion Phaneuf.
Steckel and Gunnarsson joined goaltender James Reimer, defenceman Mike Komisarek and forwards Colby Armstrong, Mike Brown and Matthew Lombardi on the sideline.
The Leafs have proven to be a resilient bunch, though, and have shaken off the injuries. Determination has become a hallmark of the club.
Jonas Gustavsson had another stellar game in goal. He now has four consecutive wins.
He stoned both Corey Perry and Andrew Cogliano in the second period as the Leafs held on to a 3-1 lead. That talk a few weeks ago about whether Gustavsson could properly back up Reimer has evaporated.
"You want to win, that is why you play," Gustavsson said. "But you try not to be satisfied, because you could lose the next game."
Joey Crabb put the visitors ahead 3-1 in the second period when he skated to the front of the net and tipped Luke Schenn's shot behind Jonas Hiller.
Tyler Bozak, with two goals, MacArthur, and Luke Schenn into an empty net also scored for the Leafs.
"I thought we skated really well," coach Ron Wilson said. "We're one of the few teams that has not blown a third-period lead (the Leafs improved to 9-0 when leading after two periods).
Ex-Leaf Francois Beauchemin and Perry scored for the Ducks.
Lupul assisted on both of Bozak's goals, giving him 18 points in November. Only the Chicago Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews, with 18 points, has had as many in the calendar month.
"That surprises me quite a bit," Lupul said. "I don't think of myself in that category with the top scorers in the league. I have to do lots of other things to have success."
The Leafs used a 19-second spurt to kill a small spurt of Ducks momentum in the first period.
Beauchemin scored on a power play to give Anaheim a 1-0 lead at 9:51, the Leafs struck twice, starting at 14:10.
John-Michael Liles made a sweet backhand pass to Bozak, who had to tap the puck into the open net.
MacArthur gave the Leafs their first lead of the game after Tim Connolly stole the puck from Toni Lydman at the Ducks blue line and got it up to MacArthur. A slap shot by MacArthur deflected high into the net off the stick of defenceman Luca Sbisa.
With Bozak's first goal coming on a power play, the Leafs have scored a goal with a man advantage in seven consecutive games. The most recent time that happened was in March of the 2007-08 season, when they had a power-play goal in 10 consecutive games.