It took just under 13 and a half minutes on Wednesday night for Jonas Gustavssonís first start in almost two weeks to come to a screeching stop.
Yes, Gustavsson did play longer than that. In fact, after being yanked by Leafs coach Ron Wilson for allowing three first-period goals, the Swedish netminder came out for the second and finished the game.
But you could see his confidence was already gone after being pulled for Jean-Sebastien Giguere, and a weak Marian Gaborik goal through his legs from an impossible angle in the second period only underscored that fact.
It was supposed to be a critical start for Gustav≠sson, one in which he could put to rest calls for the Marliesí James Reimer to once again take his spot in net. Instead, all Gustavssonís performance did was put his future with the Leafs on life support and add fuel to the fire that Reimer should be back with the team.
You had to feel a bit sorry for Gustavsson, though. Even though he looked terrible on the Rangersí opening goal, flopping around on his knees, stick-less and out of position, and again when Gaborik completed his hat trick with that weak one from the side of the net, he also was hung out to dry by his own defence twice in the first period. Brian Boyle was left unguarded when he tipped a Marc Staal slapper past a helpless Gustavsson to make it 2-0 and nobody was even close to Gaborik when he took a pass right in front of the Leafsí net to put the Rangers up 3-0. Where was the defence?
Maybe things could have been different for Gustav≠sson and Toronto.
The Leafs controlled the play for the first half of the opening period and had they been able to convert on a couple of power plays, who knows? But, once again, their play with the extra man was ineffectual.
And why wouldnít it be with guys like Phil Kessel taking harmless wrist shots from just inside the blue line? The Leafs only managed one shot on net in two power plays in the first and had five shots blocked. Thatís no way to score goals.
Coming into last nightís game, Gaborik hadnít scored a goal in eight games. In fact, he had been so bad that Rangers coach John Tortorella had benched him in the third period against Philadelphia on Sunday.
Well, Gaborik got the message, tallying four goals and an assist.
And it wasnít only Gaborik that broke out of his slump: The Rangers hadnít scored more than two goals in nine consecutive games heading into last nightís contest. During one scoring spree in the first alone, they found the net four times in a span of 4:45.
There were a couple of past and present New York Jets enjoying the game at Madison Square Garden last night so itís no wonder the Rangers won by a touchdown. Jets coach Rex Ryan, a big Darryl Sittler fan, was in attendance, as was former quarterback Boomer Esiason, who is a big supporter of the Rangers and has been playing recreational hockey since 1997. ďIím a C+ hockey player,Ē Esiason said.
It spoke volumes about what kind of night it was for the Maple Leafs. There was captain Dion Phaneuf with his jersey pulled over his head getting hammered by former Leaf Kris Newbury. Both players got tossed in the third for the fight. But Newbury had done his job, something Leafs tough guy Colton Orr was unable to do. Orr had tried to goad Newbury into a fight on several occasions to no avail. To add to that, Orr took a couple of unnecessary penalties, especially a cross-checking call in the first that opened the floodgates for the Rangers.
Toronto has been outscored 13-2 in regulation time in its past three losses Ö Gaborikís four-goal game was the first in the NHL this season Ö Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist recorded the 30th shutout of his career ... Leafs forward Joey Crabb was picked 226th overall by the Rangers in 2002 ... The Rangers were without their leading scorer Brandon Dubinsky, who will miss three to four weeks after a stress fracture was discovered in his left leg.