Ryder Hits The Target Against Toskala, Bruins Beat Leafs, 4-3, In Shootout
A nine percent accuracy in shootouts didn't deter coach Claude Julien from using sniper Michael Ryder against the Maple Leafs.
Ryder, the former Montreal Canadien now with Boston, was called upon by Julien during the fourth round of Wednesday's 4-3 shootout victory over the Maple Leafs.
Despite going just one-for-11 in his career in shootouts, Ryder calmly rocketed a wrist shot over the shoulder of Toronto netminder Vesa Toskala to send the Maple Leafs to their seventh loss in nine games since Jan. 1
Two costly third period penalties to Toronto enabled the Bruins to erase a 3-1 deficit and allowed Julien's squad to end a mini-two game slide.
For the second consecutive game, the B's went to a shootout to decide the outcome. On Monday, they fell 5-4 at home to the St. Louis Blues after blowing a two-goal lead in final minutes of the hockey game. Blues' forward David Backes bunted a mid-air puck into the Bruins net with less than a second to go to tie the game at 4-4 and send the game into the extra session.
Defensemen Dennis Wideman and Zdeno Chara each scored in the third period on the powerplay to tie the game at 3-3, after Toronto built a two-goal advantage after 40 minutes.
Following the loss, Leafs coach Ron Wilson lamented it was penalties to Russian Leaf forwards Mikhail Grabovski and Alexei Ponikarovsky in the third period that led to his team demise.
He said the Grabovski's hooking minor was a result of the winger being out of position, while Ponikarovsky's delay of game penalty was due to him making a bad decision with the puck when harassed by the Bruins player.
Much to the delight of the Maple Leafs fans gathered at the Air Canada Center, Toronto took a 1-0 lead in the first period, as Jason Blake scored on a wraparound past Bruins unorthodox goalkeeper Tim Thomas at 13:58.
The marker by Blake ended a goalless drought by the Maple Leafs of 141 minutes and 49 seconds. It was the former Islanders forward's 14th goal of the season, just one short of his entire total from last season.
Blake has been easily Toronto's best offensive player over the past 30 days.
Lee Stempniak and Brad May, his first of the year and initial tally with the Maple Leafs, scored for Toronto.
The other Bruin goal came off the stick of rookie forward Blake Wheeler, who probably looks forward to playing the Maple Leafs. In five games this season versus Toronto, Wheeler has five goals and one assist, including a hat-trick back on Nov. 6 in Boston.
The victory by Boston marked the first time this year the team was able to come from behind in a game when trailing after 40 minutes.
Toronto had an opportunity to win the game in overtime, after Bruins' Martin St. Pierre was assessed a tripping minor on Blake at 3:20.
During the 4-on-3 powerplay, Thomas faced a shooting gallery primarily from Maple Leafs blueliner Pavel Kubina, who fired no less than five shots towards the Bruins keeper. The action had fans gathered at the ACC on the edge of their seats.
Both Thomas and Toskala were solid between the pipes, each bailing out their hockey club with timely saves.
One particular glaring puck stop came late in the second period, when Toskala robbed Wheeler on the doorstep, stacking both pads to turn aside the chance on net with Toronto ahead 3-1.
Toronto, along with the rest of the 29 NHL teams, will break for a few days as the league prepares for the annual All-Star Game, to be held this year in Montreal.
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