Colaiacovo thrilled to be back

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:00 AM ET

PHILADELPHIA -- As he paced back and forth at the gate at Pearson International Airport, Carlo Colaiacovo was being eaten up inside.

Here he was, on the verge of completing his gruelling eight-month journey back to the NHL, and the road blocks kept springing up.

There was a flight delay. There was a mechanical problem with the plane. All the while, he wondered if he would make it to Philadelphia in time to suit up against the Flyers last night.

"I was thinking, 'Come on, this can't be happening,' " said Colaiacovo.

Fortunately, he managed to overcome his air travel obstacles and arrived at the Wachovia Center in time to play his first NHL game since undergoing knee surgery in late April.

Coach Paul Maurice showed no reluctance in throwing Colaiacovo into the fray, giving the youngster 19 minutes 16 seconds of ice time. He registered two shots on goal, blocked a shot and finished minus-1 in the Leafs' 4-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers last night.

Forget the numbers. The most important post-game revelation: no pain.

"I felt great out there," said Colaiacovo, who played two games with the Marlies on a conditioning stint. "Right from the start they put me out there every other shift.

"Obviously there is room for improvement but I really didn't feel out of place. I never thought twice or hesitated when it came to making a play."

While Colaiacovo returned to the lineup, goalie Vesa Toskala did not.

Toskala has no idea when he might be able play again after missing his second consecutive game due to tightness in his groin muscles.

Asked if he would be ready for tomorrow night's showdown against the New York Rangers, Toskala shrugged.

"I don't want to make any predictions," he said. "It's kind of a minor thing and this seemed like a really good time to take care of it. I guess it's a pretty common (ailment) for any goalie. It's a little bit better. We just have to be careful that it doesn't turn into a bigger thing."


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