Gustavsson didn't help future prospects

DAVE HILSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:08 PM ET

It took just under 13 and a half minutes on Wednesday night for Jonas Gustavsson’s 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 Gustav­sson, one in which he could put to rest calls for the Marlies’ James Reimer to once again take his spot in net. Instead, all Gustavsson’s 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.

DEFENCE RESTS

You had to feel a bit sorry for Gustavsson, though. Even though he looked terrible on the Rangers’ 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 Leafs’ net to put the Rangers up 3-0. Where was the defence?

POWER OUTAGE

Maybe things could have been different for Gustav­sson 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 wouldn’t 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. That’s no way to score goals.

MESSAGE RECEIVED

Coming into last night’s game, Gaborik hadn’t 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 wasn’t only Gaborik that broke out of his slump: The Rangers hadn’t scored more than two goals in nine consecutive games heading into last night’s contest. During one scoring spree in the first alone, they found the net four times in a span of 4:45.

JET-SETTERS

There were a couple of past and present New York Jets enjoying the game at Madison Square Garden last night so it’s 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. “I’m a C+ hockey player,” Esiason said.

BROKEN ORR

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.

ICE CHIPS

Toronto has been outscored 13-2 in regulation time in its past three losses … Gaborik’s four-goal game was the first in the NHL this season … 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.


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