January 31, 2013
Phil Kessel full of hustle in Leafs' winSniper still without a goal but not for lack of effort
By LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency
TORONTO - If the Maple Leafs can survive a seven-game scoring slump by Phil Kessel and still emerge above .500, there might yet be hope to stay with the Eastern Conference pack.
Kessel did everything but get his first of 2013 on Thursday night and his long-awaited 100th as a Leaf. That included a third-period breakaway on Michal Neuvirth. But it was Nikolai Kulemin beating Kessel to break his own goose egg, while James van Riemsdyk and Matt Frattin also picked him up, Frattin with his second straight game winner in a 3-2 decision over the Washington Capitals. It was Toronto’s first back-to-back wins this season and first at home since April 5 as they improved to 4-3.
Kessel might indeed get 40 this year, but it could be in the assist category where he now has four against zero goals. Washington’s snoozing star Alex Ovechkin also scored after a prolonged skid against the Leafs.