January 3, 2010
Leafs Flame out, drop 2nd game on Alberta trip
By ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency
CALGARY ó After a road trip like this, the Toronto Maple Leafs will be anything but wild about the west.
Six days in Alberta turned out to be pointless after Toronto began the second half of the season last night with a 3-1 loss to the Flames.
A goal and two assists by Canadian Olympian Jarome Iginla was all the Flames needed, especially with a goaltender like Miikka Kiprusoff minding the store in the Calgary net.
With three days in Calgary to erase the memory of a 3-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday, the Leafs were hoping and expecting a better effort. But the physical Flames didnít give the Toronto skaters much room to move, particularly in a dominant second period.
After a pair of poor efforts on the new-year trip, the team is rapidly erasing the nice run it made to get back into contention.
With the loss, the Leafs slipped further out of the playoff race as they have dropped five of their past six and are six points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Leafs opened the scoring at 3:36 of the first when Jason Blake went hard to the net and was rewarded with a scrambly goal that went in the net off the foot Kiprusoff, who will lead Team Finland in the Vancouver Olympics.
Earlier in the season, Blake was mired in a 12-game scoring slump, but has now scored three in the past four.
But the Leafs couldnít handle the prosperity of a rare early goal, especially when the Flames game out firing in the middle period.
When Viktor Stalberg made a terrible pass leading to a turnover in his own end, the Flames pounced. Iginla jumped on a rebound to even the score.
Mere seconds later, Leafs forward Alexei Ponikarovsky took the Leafs philosophy of going hard to the net a little too literally and got a goaltender interference penalty.
The Flames took advantage of the Leafsí league-worst penalty killing unit when Robyn Regehr buried a rebound on an Iginla shot.
Among their many weaknesses is their poor play in the middle period. They have now surrendered 55 in the second, easily their worst stretch this season. It didnít get much better early in the third when the Leafs opened with a power play and didnít even muster anything resembling a scoring chance.
Glencross put it away with an empty-netter.