Leafs winning one-goal games now

Nikolai Kulemin, Clarke MacArthur and Mikhail Grabovski shoot the breeze with a coach during...

Nikolai Kulemin, Clarke MacArthur and Mikhail Grabovski shoot the breeze with a coach during practice at the MasterCard Centre on Friday. (MARK O'NEILL/ QMI Agency Sun)

Lance Hornby, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:52 PM ET

TORONTO - One-goal losses, the curse of the Maple Leafs in the post-lockout NHL, are suddenly reversing into the ‘W’ column.

With Thursday’s shootout win over the Blues, Toronto improved its record in one-goal games to 6-1-1, best in the Eastern Conference, a dramatic change from the first three years of Ron Wilson’s coaching tenure.

Toronto had suffered 54 one-goal losses in all and even with the overtime points, it doesn’t take a math whiz to figure how 10 more points were the difference in every playoff race since 2005.

“(Captain) Dion Phaneuf has been talking to us about that, how it’s going to be one-goal games probably the whole year,” said winger Philippe Dupuis. “So we have to capitalize and even if we are losing a game by one, we have to push it to overtime. We have to protect our lead or come back from the deficit and we’ve done a good job so far.”

Winger Clarke MacArthur said a big vote of thanks was owed the three goalies, even though Ben Scrivens and Jonas Gustavsson looked awful in a two-game home stretch before Thursday, when Toronto was outscored 12-1.

“You come up with the two wins that Ben came up with (in Columbus and St. Louis) and you’re definitely going to get noticed,” MacArthur said. “That’s what James Reimer did, now it’s Scrivens knocking at the door, wanting to get his shot.

“(Winning tight games) is just a matter of playing our system, keep going south in the third period instead of sitting back on our heels. When we stay on our toes, we’re a better team and it’s just a better way to play, in their end. But there is still lots to improve on.

“We’re not happy at all at the way we played last night (forcing Scrivens to save their bacon). But at the end of the day, you say you took two points, you were lucky, your goalie played great and you move on, putting those points in the bank.”

DUPUIS CRAZY FOR 11

Philippe Dupuis woke up thinking Friday would be his lucky day.

The date was 11/11/11 and No. 11 for the Maple Leafs was as pumped as anyone who had picked the day to get married, close a business deal or do something else that required a little karma. The convergence of 1s happens only once a century.

“Too bad we don’t have a game today, I know I would have scored,” the goal-less Dupuis said at the MasterCard Centre. “I’m a little superstitious, but not too crazy. But today would have been the day.”

The winger was given No. 11 when he made the Colorado Avalanche as a regular last season.

“Technically, my number has always been nine when I was growing up. I was 59 in Colorado (while trying out) and they switched it to 11. But now I like 11.”

He almost scored Thursday in St. Louis — in his 100th NHL game.

lance.hornby@sunmedia.ca


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