It's the Cujo-Pogge show

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:09 AM ET

The Maple Leafs' Swiss goaltender still is cheesed off.

Nevertheless, Martin Gerber was slapped with an automatic three-game suspension (without pay) yesterday from the NHL as a result of his bumping referee Mike Leggo in Toronto's 3-2 shootout win on Tuesday night against the Washington Capitals.

Gerber's suspension will mean that the Leafs will recall 22-year-old Justin Pogge from the Toronto Marlies. Curtis Joseph, who came in for Gerber near the end of regulation on Tuesday and helped stage a dramatic victory, will start, as planned, tomorrow night at Buffalo against the Sabres. Pogge likely will get the start on Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre against the Boston Bruins. Joseph also likely will start on April 1 at home against the Philadelphia Flyers. Gerber will be eligible to return on April 3 in Philadelphia.

Gerber lost his cool after the Capitals tied the game 2-2 at 19:53 of the third when Washington forward Brooks Laich scored after jabbing at the puck under Gerber's pad, eventually pushing the goaltender, and the puck, into the net. Gerber felt that the whistle should have been blown long before the puck went in.

"You get rattled, I think that's natural," Gerber said yesterday. "But you have to move on and get over it."

The Leafs accepted the suspension, but Leafs general manager Brian Burke said Leggo blew the call.

"Brooks Laich looked like he was digging his car out of snow drift in Ajax," Burke told 640 News. "He pitch-forked (Gerber) into the net."

Head coach Ron Wilson said any goaltender would have lost their cool in that situation.

"Say you're driving along the road and you don't think you're speeding and a cop nails you for speeding and says: 'I don't care what you say. We're calling you for speeding. You have to pay a ticket,' " Wilson said. "Most people sit in the car and yell and swear and go crazy and might even say something stupid to the cop. Well, (Gerber) acted emotionally in an emotional situation, so I can fully empathize with him."

As for Pogge, Burke told 640 News that the young goaltender hasn't really earned a spot back with the big team, but the club doesn't have much of a choice at this point.

"We feel his play with the Marlies has been fair. Not bad, but not great. We were not going to guarantee him another look before the end of the season," Burke said.

As for Joseph, the 41-year-old goaltender made eight saves in overtime to send the game into a shootout, and then stopped three Washington shooters for the win. Joseph said it was a special night.

"As you get older, you know (playing) doesn't last forever and your appreciation factor goes through the roof," Joseph said.

Pressed as to where he would rank Tuesday's win in terms of career highlights with the Leafs, Joseph replied with a laugh: "It was one of the best Tuesday nights I've had in hockey, for sure."

STEVE.BUFFERY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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