Leafs win could be costly

Maple Leafs celebrate Clarke MacArthur's third-period goal in Friday night's 4-3 shootout win over...

Maple Leafs celebrate Clarke MacArthur's third-period goal in Friday night's 4-3 shootout win over Dallas. (Reuters)

Rob Longley, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:34 AM ET

They don’t appear on the scoresheet often, and are far more about function than flash.

But if the Maple Leafs lose both David Steckel and Carl Gunnarsson, they will lose two important pieces in the team’s decent opening quarter of the season.

Both players paid the steepest price for blocking shots when they were forced out of Friday night’s 4-3 shootout win over the Dallas Stars.

Paired with captain Dion Phaneuf all season, Gunnarsson has been as steady as she goes, allowing Phaneuf to be more liberal in the offensive chances he takes.

Steckel, obviously, has been a key faceoff man and thus an important body on the penalty-kill. While the Leafs have adapted well to the injury rash that has hit them this November, eventually it has to catch up to them.

Game On

With Joffrey Lupul’s big goal as the third shooter, the Leafs improved their shootout record this season to 3-1. Lupul had been bloodied in the final minute of regulation from a face-carving by the Stars’ Sheldon Souray ... Leafs goalie Jonas Gustavsson didn’t flinch in his first shootout of the season, waiting out two of the three Dallas shooters and getting help from the post on the third. Prior to that, the Monster finally looked to find the comfort zone he’s failed to show in so long. Great third period by the Swede ... With the two points, the Leafs now move back into first in the Northeast. It was also their seventh road win, a mark they didn’t hit until Jan. 7 last season ... With Phaneuf’s point shot that trickled past Kari Lehtonen in the first period, the Leafs extended their success on the power play to six consecutive games with a goal. The unit was ranked third in the league entering Friday’s play ... Interesting reaction from Phil Kessel after the Phaneuf goal. While it looked like Kessel may have swept it in himself, he made sure he immediately pointed to the captain ... Nice deflection by Joey Crabb on the Leafs’ first goal, but the play never would have happened if it wasn’t for the strong move by centre Joe Colborne earlier. The knock on Colborne last season was he could be soft on the puck, but the big rookie did a good job protecting it along the boards before getting it back to Phaneuf ... Leafs defenceman Luke Schenn had one of his stronger games and saved a goal when he got a stick on a second-period shot by the Stars’ Michael Ryder, who had a clear open net with Gustavsson out of position ... Here’s hoping that the league doesn’t even think about looking at that crushing hit Schenn leveled on Tomas Vincour in the third. If that isn’t a good, hard hockey hit, I’m not sure I want to know what is.

More score

The Leafs were caught leg-weary in the third period on the Stars’ tying goal by Radek Dvorak, set up on a perfect pass from Mike Ribeiro ... Another solid night for the Leafs penalty kill, which kept the Stars off the board in four chances with the man advantage ... Credit Jake Gardiner for stepping up and handling the added ice time with the loss of Gunnarsson ... You sure do hold your breath every time Gustavsson wanders from his crease, don’t you? His poor puck play should have improved by now and that part of his game is even more glaring when the Leafs are facing a goalie such as the Stars’ Lehtonen ... Friday’s win was the Leafs’ first in the Lone Star State since Oct. 22, 2002 ... Toronto was clearly playing on fumes in the third, not getting their second shot on the Stars until 111/2 minutes in. The first was Clarke MacArthur’s go-ahead goal ... Is it just me or does Kessel look his least threatening during shootouts? ... Colborne might have tried to get a little too fancy with his shootout deke, but Lehtonen made a good stick save ... Lupul’s winner, meanwhile, was all about the quick release timed just as Lehtonen started moving back into his net.

This and That

It’s tough to say where Nazem Kadri fits on the Leafs depth chart, but he’s not about to stay with the Marlies without making some noise. Kadri had two goals and two assists in the team’s 4-3 Friday win at St. John’s ... Depending on the severity of the injury to Steckel, it wouldn’t be a reach to see the Leafs recall veteran Mike Zigomanis. They might not get offensive flash from him, but they do get a proven faceoff man who is also good on the penalty-kill ... Then again, that St. John’s-to-Anaheim journey can be a killer ... Great stat from Sportsnet: Prior to Friday’s game, Phaneuf led all NHL players with 709 shifts ... With the Leafs managing just 23 shots, the Stars have held their past three opponents to 25 shots or less ... You want organizational depth? The Leafs and Marlies both find themselves in first in their respective divisions.


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