One man's misery is another's salvation. And, so it was last night that with Chad Kilger out of the lineup, John Pohl moved back in for the Maple Leafs.
Kilger left practice Friday after hurting his leg, but he already had been bumped from the lineup in favour of Bates Battaglia against Montreal on Nov. 13.
Kilger played against Boston on Thursday but was used for less than eight minutes.
Pohl, meanwhile, started the season playing more than 10 minutes a game, but that has dwindled since the end of October, culminating in his spending the past four games watching from the press box. It was the longest he had sat out since joining the Leafs.
Pohl spent all of last season with Toronto and was talking about a breakout season in training camp. Instead, he had just one goal and three assists coming into last night's game.
Leafs' coach Paul Maurice said Pohl has to show more game to stay in the lineup.
"It's not just that he has to get through the game. He's got to make a difference," he said.
Meanwhile, defenceman Pavel Kubina missed his third game after injuring ligaments in his right knee.
"It's coming along," Kubina said.
It didn't escape Jason Spezza's notice that linemate Dany Heatley gets pumped playing in Toronto, with 17 goals in 19 games.
"This is a big stage and he has a flair for playing well on a big stage," Spezza said.
Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson was preparing for another earful from Toronto fans last night. He's been getting booed every time he touches the puck since the playoff incidents of yesteryear involving Darcy Tucker and Mats Sundin.
"I don't mind it at all," Alfredsson told Sun Media. "It's one of the things about playing in a building with a lot of passion.."
Before last night, Jason Blake ranked fifth in shots with 90 in 20 games, but his two goals leave him with a shooting percentage of just 2.2%. The league leader was Isles' Josef Vasicek with 36.8%, or seven goals on 19 shots.