TORONTO - The first penalty shot ever taken by the Leafs at home back in 1934 was against Chicago and was a dud by Charlie Conacher.
Some 77 years later, Mikhail Grabovski knows the feeling.
The rare call in these days of the shootout was made in Saturday night’s game against the Blackhawks and a goal would’ve pulled the Leafs to within two with a chunk of the third period to remaining. But rookie Hawks netminder Corey Crawford extended a leg and foiled Grabovski’s fancy deke. Grabovski had braked at the blue paint and tried a one-handed tuck, but was rejected.
“He made a great save,” Grabovski said. “But it was the end of my shift (when he was hauled down by defenceman Brent Seabrook) and I was tired.”
A penalty shot is different than a shootout attempt, where you have a few more moments to compose yourself. But penalty shots are few and far between for the Leafs, who last succeeded at home when the long-departed John Pohl beat Manny Fernandez of the Minnesota Wild in 2006.
The last three against Chicago have been foiled, Matt Stajan on Nikolai Khabibulin and Mats Sundin on Andrei Trefilov. Greg Terrion was the last Leaf to beat a Blackhawk, scoring on Murray Bannerman in 1984.
“It’s a 50-50 chance,” said Grabovski, who is 2-for-5 in the shootout this year.
The goal would have been his 26th and just his second since Feb. 15.