TORONTO - Veteran defenceman Tomas Kaberle was asked to explain it again — how the Leafs can rev it up for teams such as Montreal and often seem to be caught flat-footed when clubs with less prestige come to town.
But Kaberle pointed out that the Leafs did well against two of the division leaders they’ve recently faced, beating Montreal and Washington and taking two key Northeast games when you count a shootout win over Boston.
“Division games are four-point games and those are huge,” said Kaberle, who had the 3-1 winner against the Canadiens on Saturday.
“It seems like we get ready for those games more, but you should prepare like that every night. But (the key) was we scored the first goal and kept their score low.”
The Leafs are 7-1-3 when scoring first.
Coach Ron Wilson said a lot of housekeeping details added up to a win against the Habs.
“We got a big (last-minute) shot block from Fredrik Sjostrom, there were little things around the front of the net, we won races to the puck,” Wilson rhymed off. “Phil (Kessel) won a battle in the corner, pushed a guy off and got in front.
“Things like that are baby steps, but you look at the whole week and I don’t think anybody said we were going to win one of those (five) games and we won three, so I’m proud of them.”
Wilson burned a timeout in the second period, somewhat unusual with his team ahead, but looking very ragged.
“We were caught on an icing,” he explained. “It was a critical part of the game and you don’t want to roll the dice and be scored against. You want to get fresh people out. Tyler Bozak was doing well on faceoffs and I didn’t want him going out there tired.”
Catching captain video
With Saturday’s win, Wilson tied Roger Neilson with 75 wins among Toronto coaches. Wilson played for Neilson in his two-year tenure here.
“I didn’t even know that,” Wilson said of the milestone, joking “it just means I’ve been here three months longer than Roger was.
“But I learned a lot from Roger, even though I didn’t play much for him. The way my mind worked, I liked to think I always thought like a coach. I saw all the good things he did, all the innovations, and I tried to continue it.”
With his next win, Wilson will tie immediate predecessor Paul Maurice, who ranks 11th on the list.
Air Canada Centre workers were still getting a big chuckle out of a group of fans who were wearing 3-D glasses to Saturday night’s game and muttering about how nothing was looking different. They apparently thought there would be some kind of special video imagery magic on the ice, but the game was only being broadcast in 3-D. “It would have been something if one of them said his glasses were actually working,” quipped a staffer ... Sjostrom’s two points on Saturday were a single-game Leafs high for the winger. “I’m happy we got the two points, but a point here and there is always good for the confidence,” he said ... When the Leafs came out wearing sweaters of past players for Homecoming Night, Colby Armstrong wore namesake George Armstrong’s 10, complete with the Chief’s ‘C’.