New Leaf tricks, old dog

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:58 AM ET

Ron Wilson had an inkling it was going to happen.

The Maple Leafs coach, his team down by a goal entering the third period last night, figured a shootout might be in the offing and told Curtis Joseph to start mentally preparing himself to face the Anaheim Ducks.

That Joseph watched as starting goalie Vesa Toskala played through regulation and overtime didn't matter. Ultimately, Wilson's ploy backfired, as Joseph was beaten by Teemu Selanne and Corey Perry in the shootout, allowing the Ducks to waddle out of the Air Canada Centre with a 3-2 win they didn't deserve.

"We had nothing to lose," Wilson said, perhaps forgetting about the extra point the Ducks took. "I'm playing percentages. I talked to Cujo and told him to get ready. Career-wise, (opponents) have scored only (25%) of the time on Cujo, and on Toskala, teams have scored (51%) of the time. You have to score, but you need some saves. I'm not going to hesitate to do that."

Neither Nikolai Kulemin nor Tomas Kaberle scored on Ducks goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere after overtime ended.

The Leafs had lost twice in shootouts in the week previous, with Toskala stopping just one of five shots.

"I don't have any problem with it at all," Toskala said of the switch. "As a team, we just have to find points. Those lost points from these shootouts are going to really (hurt) come the end of the season."

Joseph claimed he didn't mind going in cold.

"I've had some success on shootouts, but they were two good shots," he said. "I have to like being in that spot, because at least you have a chance. Unfortunately, the quick releases look a little quicker when you've been sitting."

If Brian Burke indeed makes the long trek to Leafland from southern California next summer, he might want to scour every nook and cranny along the way for a couple of goal-scorers. The Ducks general manager, heavily rumoured to be taking over in Toronto after his contract expires next June, last night got to see the Leafs' pop-gun offence up close.

The Leafs outshot Anaheim 38-21, but held the visitors without a shot on goal in the third period -- the first time in team history they've accomplished such a feat.

Nik Antropov scored twice, including the tying goal with 53 seconds left in the third. Antropov is the only Leaf to score in the past three games.

Francois Beauchemin and George Parros had given the Ducks a 2-0 first-period edge.

Despite buzzing around J-S Giguere for much of the night, the Leafs again were stung by their inability to finish. During a 32-second two-man advantage in the third, only a point shot by Pavel Kubina got through. Mikhail Grabovski remains in search of his first Leafs goal, despite recording seven shots. Niklas Hagman and Alexei Ponikarovsky had five shots each.

"Some guys like Grabovski and Hagman are playing so well, but they are not getting rewarded," Wilson said. "Eventually they will and the dam will break.

"We can get more. We get a 5-on-3 and we are taking long-bomb shots and trying to be a hero instead of using each other. We have to get some of that Lone Ranger mentality out."


Photos