A playoff series might not be in the Leafs’ near future, but the Buds gave their fans at least one thing to be happy about with tonight’s win over the Senators. For the second straight year, despite the fact that Ottawa will most likely be playing in the postseason, Toronto won the season series between the teams, 4-2. Surprisingly, the only fight tonight did not involve Colton Orr or Matt Carkner, and Jonas Gustavsson turned in one hell of a performance to earn his 13th win of the year, giving him more than half the team’s wins on the season.
The Leafs won tonight playing the same style of hockey that has seen them go 5-2 over their last 7 games. Phil Kessel scored his 4th goal in the last 4 games and his 26th of the season with a beautiful snipe through the legs of an Ottawa defenseman midway through the first. John Mitchell and Mikhail Grabovski added goals less than 20 seconds apart in the 2nd to put the game out of reach. Rickard Wallin added an empty netter in the closing minutes, doubling his goal total on the year.
The line that impressed me the most tonight was the Grabovski-Stalberg-Caputi combination. A great compliment to the first line, all 3 recorded points tonight, with Stalberg and Caputi getting assists on Grabbo’s goal. Grabovski has looked great since returning from an injury that kept him out for most of January and all of February, and has recorded a point in all 5 games he’s played since rejoining the roster. Caputi is looking like a great find, and had a couple of chances to score. He nearly had a breakaway in the 3rd, and was robbed by Brian Elliott on a 3-on-1 rush late in the period. The best part of his game continues to be his knack for always being in front of the net. Any time the puck is in the offensive zone, it seems, Caputi can be found within about a 10 foot radius of the crease.
Gustavsson looked great between the pipes, stoning Michalek on a breakaway with a sprawling pokecheck and making a number of key saves throughout that kept the Sens from climbing back into the game. His 30 saves bumped his save percentage back into the land of respectability, back to .900. His GAA is also now under 3.00, and the young Swede definitely seems to have turned the corner. Not to jinx the kid, but he hasn’t lost since the Olympic break, dating back to the late game meltdown against New Jersey on February 5th. Speaking of the Devils, the Leafs will host New Jersey on Thursday night.
1. Jonas Gustavsson – 31 saves
2. Phil Kessel – 1 goal, 7 shots on goal, 13 shots attempted
3. Carl Gunnarsson – 3 blocked shots