TORONTO - He may have a flowery name, but fourth-line grinder Jay Rosehill proved his mettle again for the Leafs, avenging teammate Nikolai Kulemin.
On Jan. 24, Carolina defenceman Tim Gleason punched Kulemin, a noted pacifist, in the face late in the first period after the Leafs forward delivered a couple of light shots toward Gleason’s mug. Gleason’s knockout blow resulted in a shiner over Kulemin’s left eye and vows by some Leafs that Gleason, who does drop the gloves with some regularity, would pay for his indiscretion — though Gleason did apologize later and actually left a message on Kulemin’s voicemail.
Rosehill and Gleason went toe-to-toe late in the first period on Thursday night with the Leafs forward earning a decision largely on the strength of a series of straight lefts.
“It wasn’t anything personal,” said Rosehill of the bout. “I don’t think what (Gleason) did was too out of line, but nonetheless one of our guys got popped and I think he knew it was coming.”
The Leafs didn’t score until the second period, but they certainly carried the play to Carolina following the fight.
“That’s what I like about the fighting sometimes. I think it can get the momentum going in your direction,” said Rosehill, adding that Kulemin later gave him a tap on the shins and said: “Good job.”
There was also some talk that perhaps some of the Leafs would go after Hurricanes captain Eric Staal, who had the alleged gall not to pick Toronto forward Phil Kessel with his last pick in the fantasy draft at last weekend’s all-star game in Carolina.
Staal passed on Kessel, instead picking Colorado’s Paul Stastny, leaving Kessel as the last player not picked — an embarrassing situation for the young Leafs forward.
But the concept of getting revenge for that perceived slight is ridiculous. Staal was under no obligation to pick Kessel, who received a new car for being selected last.
Kessel shouldn’t have been at the all-star game to start with. Mikhail Grabovski should have been chosen. It’s amazing a guy who has a minus rating as bad as Kessel’s (-20) would be selected an all-star.
OF BRENT AND BLOCKS
Centre Tim Brent did yeoman’s work killing a two-man power play for Carolina in the second, blocking no fewer than three hard shots and hanging in there though he was clearly hurting during the long shift.
“I don’t think so,” said Brent, when asked if he was insane? “It’s a crucial point in the game and the two points make all the bruises feel better. And a great job by Reims (James Reimer). He made some big saves on that 5-on-3. It’s a bit momentum shift for us if we can kill it.”
Brent, who had a goal stolen by the glove of Cam Ward late in the game, said he didn’t start to feel better until halfway through the third.
When they showed Brent after on the scoreboard, following the penalty kill, the Cambridge, Ont., native was given a big ovation.
“That’s the beautiful thing about playing in Toronto, most places wouldn’t appreciate something like that,” said Brent. “We have the best fans in the world for a reason and that’s a prime example of it.”
Defenceman Francois Beauchemin also blocked a shot with his hand during the Carolina power play and was also clearly hurt.
The Leafs blocked 28 shots, compared to 13 for Carolina.
NO THRILL FOR PHIL
Speaking of Kessel, he just can’t buy a goal.
It’s now nine straight games he hasn’t scored, since Jan.11 at San Jose. Kessel is certainly getting his shots and had a number of marvellous chances against the Hurricanes. He was robbed big time by Ward in the first and couldn’t get the puck to settle down in the second with an open net. He also had a couple of chances in the third.
WILD AND WEIRD STUFF
Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Ferguson Jenkins dropped the puck in the opening faceoff as the Leafs recognized Black History Month. The Chatham native is tied for 29th in wins in Major League Baseball history with 284 ... Fourth-line forward Fredrik Sjostrom played his first game since Jan.24. The Swede has missed seven of the last eight with a leg injury ... Former Leaf Jiri Tlusty played 9:09 minutes and was largely invisible. Sort of like when he was in Toronto ... The funniest bit of the night occurred in the first period when MLSEL did a promotion for a burger outfit (not Zeis). Anyway, a kid was asked to identify the former Leafs great on the scoreboard and they then showed picture of Darryl Sittler, with the name ‘Darryl Sittler’ on top. The kid answered “Darren Stiller” much to the delight of those on hand, particularly the jaded wretches on press row.