For one night, Kessel outshines Seguin

DAVE HILSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:17 PM ET

Phil Kessel just can’t buy a break — or a goal for that matter — against his former club.

The hockey gods even seemed to be against him when he had a last-ditch chance to be the hero and even things up at 2-2 with just seconds remaining in the third period on Monday night at the Air Canada Centre. But the puck jumped as he loaded up and Kessel never got good wood on the shot.

He has now gone nine games without a goal against the Boston Bruins since being acquired by the Maple Leafs for multiple draft picks. And it seems the Kessel-Tyler Seguin comparisons just won’t die.

But, for one night, anyway, Kessel was clearly the superior player. The Leafs sniper finished the game with eight shots — most of them quality ones — and several good scoring chances in 20:35 minutes of ice-time. His foot-speed was evident all game and he walked around Bruins defenceman Dennis Seidenberg on several occasions. But Kessel just couldn’t put a puck past Tuuka Rask.

“Right off the bat he had a lot of good scoring chances,” linemate Tyler Bozak said. “It doesn’t seem to go in too often against these guys. He’s always getting the chances. Against a lot of other teams, a lot of those chances go in. He’s just a little snake-bitten against these guys.”

Snake-bitten, yes, but at least he had an impact out there last night. In 14:21 of ice time, Seguin had two shots on goal and was minus-1.

And best of all if you are a fan of the Kessel deal, he was barely noticeable.

Goal Daddy

One guy who doesn’t seem to have any trouble scoring against the Bruins — or, at the moment, any other team — is new father Mikhail Grabovski. The Leafs centre, whose girlfriend had a baby girl a few days back, took a long breakaway pass up the middle from defenceman Luke Schenn and scored on a backhand through Rask’s legs in the first period to give Toronto the early lead. Grabovski has now scored in nine of his past 12 games and leads all current Leafs with seven career goals in 18 games against Boston.

“It was a special goal for me today,” Grabovski said when asked if he was going to keep the puck for his daughter.

Failure To Launch

Troubles getting the puck out of their own zone proved costly once again to the Leafs. In fact, both of the Bruins’ goals in the second period came when Toronto couldn’t clear the puck. Though to be fair, it sure looked like a trip on Schenn that led to Nathan Horton’s 12th goal of the season. Boy, is he another guy the Leafs would love to have on their team.

Hear Them Roar

At least the fans at the ACC still had something to cheer about. The crowd let out a collective roar when it was put up on the big video screen that Team Canada led the United States 3-0 at the end of the second period of their world junior hockey championship semifinal match. Fans were invited to stay to watch the outcome of that game, which finished up later than the Leafs-Bruins tilt.

Ice Chips

The Leafs are now 1-17-2 when trailing after two periods ... Here’s an interesting stat: The Leafs are 7-0-2 when forward Kris Versteeg scores. They could have used a goal from him last night ... There was a heartwarming video tribute to former Maple Leafs Bob Hassard and Pete Langelle in the first period. Hassard, who died Thursday at the age of 81, played 109 games for Toronto in the 1950s. Langelle died on Nov. 29. He was 93 years old. Langelle scored 22 goals in 136 games for the Leafs, none more important than his last, though, a series-winner in Game 7 of the 1942 Stanley Cup final.


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