Sputtering special teams costing Leafs in close games

Canadiens forward Brian Gionta goes after a loose puck in front of Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier in...

Canadiens forward Brian Gionta goes after a loose puck in front of Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier in Montreal on Saturday night. (Ben Pelosse/QMI Agency)

Lance Hornby, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:37 PM ET

Where have the Maple Leafs gone wrong of late?

The team that had a handle on winning close games is now losing them with alarming frequency.

Few players needed to check the stats to find the answer. From 18 one-goal wins since Randy Carlyle replaced Ron Wilson, Toronto has now dropped 14 by the same score and is 4-4 this season after Carlyle’s first consecutive one-goal defeats in Pittsburgh and Buffalo.

“The first thing that comes to my mind is the penalty killing,” all-purpose forward Jay McClement said Saturday. “When we were getting those wins, we were getting the late kills and giving ourselves a chance to keep those leads or keep the game tied. That was a staple, that was something that kept us in games.”

The Leafs have given up 22 power-play goals, three more than last year’s abbreviated 48-game season and slumped from top five at the start of November to bottom 10, going 25 for 38 in the past 11 games.


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