Leafs Take Injury Bowl

Toronto the Better of Two Battered Teams    

January 13th, 2004

It wasn't the ideal way to start the second half.

Calgary Flames, who haven't surrendered four goals in a game since the first quarter pole of the season, did just that in Toronto last night, the Leafs matching the swift Flames stride for stride and hit for hit, lowering the boom in a 4-1 victory.

Flames defensive game has gotten them this far in a remarkable season, but for the most part the Leafs wore Calgary down in this one, giving up very little in taking over first place overall in the NHL with the win.

Toronto spent much of the night doing an excellent job throwing a defensive net on the frustrated Flames, while counterattacking with ease.

It wasn't totally one-sided but the Leafs were clearly the better team through much of the evening, the Flames only periodically displaying their speed game or generating much in the way of offensive creativity.

Flames managed to generate only 16 shots on Ed Belfour in the Leafs net.

At the other end, it was a night Jamie McLennan hadn't seen in a while, defensive miscues and missed assignments leading to concerted Leaf pressure, although they totaled only 23 shots in the end.

"I think we were flat," defenceman Robyn Regehr told FAN960 after the game. "We didn't play with any energy. We didn't help Jamie out at all. We let point slips through our hands. Very, very important points."

It was also a grinding, physical affair on a shift-by-shift basis with both sides laying some large hits and cheap shots on the other side.

"They were playing in our zone the whole time," Regehr added. "Rarely did we put any pressure on them. It was pretty easy for them."

While the Flames haven't had much success in Toronto lately, the loss was nonetheless surprising given Calgary had rung up nine straight wins against Eastern Conference opponents.

Calgary falls to 23-14-3-3 on the season, stuck at 50 points. Flames are in sixth place in the NHL's tough Western Conference, two points ahead of Nashville with two games in hand. Flames are five points ahead of Los Angeles for ninth place with a game in hand.

The Flames lost the special teams battle, going zero for five on their power play chances while the Leafs scored twice on five chances with the man advantage.

In the end, that was probably the difference in the game.

Bryan McCabe scored twice for the Leafs while Nik Antropov and Tom Fitzgerald added single goals.

Shean Donovan scored a beauty at the end of the second period for the Flames, accepting a Lynn Loyns pass behind his back, deflecting it through his legs to his forehand, cutting to the net and popping the water bottle to tie the game.

Then the roof fell in, the Leafs scoring three times in the third.

Flames will have less than 24 hours to cry in their beer, playing in Washington on Wednesday night.






1) Brian McCabe - Two goals and a mean SOB all night.
2) Nik Antropov - A goal and an assist and creative throughout the game. 
3) Mats Sundin - Nice elbow to the head of Denis Gauthier while protecting himself from a submarine hit plus a fine assist on the goal that put the game out of reach.  

Pick any of the saves in a seven shot second period flurry that saw McLennan lose his stick and blocker, keeping the Flames close enough to tie it.

A slow pass was drifting to Nathan Perrott, the big Toronto flatnose who was winding up for a perfect slapper from the slot when Toni Lydman stepped into him and sent him flying.

Halfway point of the game, each team had only six shots, then the Leafs took off. . . . . . . The fight card had Krzysztof Oliwa versus Perrott and Clark Wilm and Shean Donovan at the end of the game . . . . . Sundin saw Denis Gauthier coming with a hip check at the last second, throwing an elbow to the back of the head of the Calgary defender as he was taking flight. . . . . Stephane Yelle was 66% in the faceoff circle while Matthew Lombardi was 65%. Calgary was 53% overall . . . . Sundin was 55% for the Leafs. . . . . Iginla has six of Calgary's 16 shots and also played a strong game . . . . Jordan Leopold logged 26:33 in ice time but that was only marginally ahead of Iginla at 25:05 as coach Darryl Sutter tried to get something, anything going . . . . Sutter was tossed from the contest with five seconds to go for unloading verbally on the Dave Jackson and Wes McCauley, displeased with the way the game deterioriated into a cheapshot fest near the end.

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