A tale of two goalies

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:18 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- Having just been given the hook by coach Ron Wilson midway through the second period, Vesa Toskala peered up at the scoreboard, shrugged his shoulders, then plopped his butt on the Maple Leafs bench.

"I actually felt really good," Toskala said later. "I guess that's what sucks the most."

In what turned out to be a tale of two goalies, Toskala came out on the short end of a 4-2 decision to Roberto Luongo and the Vancouver Canucks in a rare late afternoon start at GM Place yesterday.

While the loss can not solely be pinned on Toskala's shoulders, there is no doubt that he struggled to make the big saves -- he had trouble making any saves, for that matter -- when his team needed them the most.

PULLING THE PLUG

And when Daniel Sedin scored at 8:31 of the second period to put the Canucks up 4-0, Toskala finally was yanked in favour of backup Curtis Joseph, leaving behind an ugly performance that saw him beaten four times on nine shots.

The goals weren't real stinkers but that does not change the fact that his save percentage on the night was an awful .555.

Toskala insists he was not "embarrassed" by the performance but management has to feel that the team's No. 1 goaltender needs to pick up his game. His 7-5-3 record is respectable, to be sure, but the 3.07 goals-against average and .886 save percentage he brought into the contest certainly are grounds for concern.

While Wilson refused to throw Toskala under the bus, he did acknowledge that the team could have used a stop at a key time.

Like the kind Luongo made, especially in the early going.

The Leafs peppered the Canucks' all-world goalie with 10 shots before the game was six minutes old, many of those shots coming with the visitors enjoying a two-man advantage for 1:57. Luongo stopped them all, making several saves while his stick was in the corner.

It proved to be the turning point of the contest.

Frustrated at not being able to solve Luongo, the Leafs then took a blow to the gut when their former teammate, Kyle Wellwood, put Vancouver up 1-0 at 7:13 of the first, converting the Canucks' first shot of the game.

"It was huge," Wilson said of the Leafs' inability to score on the early power play. "(Luongo) made a couple of saves but we didn't effectively move the puck around. Then we look up at the clock, the shots are (10-0) and they come back to score on their first shot. It was kind of depressing."

DISADVANTAGE

So, too, is the fact that the Leafs have yet to score with the two-man advantage all season. Wilson plans to address that problem by switching personnel in those situations.

As for Luongo, he once again displayed why many feel he is the best goaltender in the league.

"That was a big moment in the game," Luongo said, referring to the Leafs' inability to score while up two men. "My job is to stop the puck and that's what I did."

Had Toskala done the same, the Leafs may have returned home from their three-game swing through Western Canada with a better record than just 1-2.

Ryan Kesler, Willie Mitchell and Sedin had goals for the Canucks. Ian White and Matt Stajan scored late for Toronto but it wasn't nearly enough.


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