Perfecting art of one-goal defeats

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:34 AM ET

RALEIGH N.C. -- All those ones that got away have added up to no playoffs for the Maple Leafs.

With last night's 6-5 shootout loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, the Leafs have now lost 50 times by one goal in the past three seasons, covering 184 games, including nine times this year.

Perhaps it was fate that No. 50, Jonas Gustavsson, was in net for the latest setback, though Toronto's luck in the shootout has been awful since it was introduced as the NHL's tiebreaker after the 2004-05 lockout.

The sorry one-goal stat includes a club record 23 under Paul Maurice's watch in 2007-08, the same coach who was on the opposing bench last night, putting successor Ron Wilson through the same agony.

Maurice has clearly learned his lesson with Carolina able to escape last overall with just one regulation win so far, back on Oct. 9.

Gustavsson faced one of the best in the shootout business last night in Jussi Jokinen, the second Cane to deke him completely after fellow Finn Tuomo Ruutu.

STREAK ENDS

Toronto's Phil Kessel missed his shootout attempt on Manny Legace after his six-game points streak came to an end earlier in the evening.

He was one shy of beating last season's highwater mark set by Pavel Kubina and Mikhail Grabovski.

Lee Stempniak missed the other.

If the Leafs did do something right last night, it was to get in the way of 24 Canes' shots, though Francois Beauchemin's last block with the net empty went right to Erik Cole for the tying goal with three seconds remaining in regulation.

That was a crusher.

It's unclear whether Gustavsson or Vesa Toskala will start tomorrow against the Washington Capitals, both men getting into the Oct. 6 game after Toskala was pulled when the Caps blitzed Toronto early.


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