Vesa vexes Wings

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:23 AM ET

Most goalies playing against the Detroit Red Wings would see an octopus tossed on to the ice and be intimidated.

Vesa Toskala would witness something like that and figure there was a free calamari meal at his doorstep.

Toskala has never shown any fear against the big bad Wings, even when the Detroit fans resorted to their ritual of chucking gooey squids on to the playing surface at Joe Louis Arena.

During his days as a San Jose Shark, Toskala was an impressive 5-1 against the Red Wings with a 1.47 goals-against average and a shutout. Whether he was facing them at The Joe or the Shark Tank, the reflex-driven Finnish goaltender had Detroit's number on most nights.

Facing the Wings for the first time as a Maple Leaf yesterday at the Air Canada Centre, Toskala showed he did not leave behind whatever spell he holds over the Western Conference powerhouse, stopping 32 shots on his way to a 3-2 overtime victory.

"You guys are pretty good with the stats," a grinning Toskala said after being informed that he had beaten the Wings for the sixth time in seven games.

"It helps to have played them before (while out west). You just have to be patient when you play against them. They like to make a lot of drop passes and cross-ice passes, so you have to wait for the shots."

Toskala now has backstopped the Leafs to wins over three of the NHL's elite sides -- Ottawa, Montreal and Detroit -- in the past eight days.

"It tells us we can beat any team in the league," said Toskala, who earned first-star honours. "The trouble is, against some of the other teams, we think the games are going to be easier and they aren't. I don't know why that is."

Just like the Wings don't know why Toskala still seems to have their number.


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