Toronto Maple Leafs: Phil Kessel Scores Again in Second Straight Win

Dustin PollackContributor IFebruary 16, 2011

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 25: James Reimer #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs protects the net against the Tampa Bay Lightning at St. Pete Times Forum on January 25, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. The Lightning defeated the Leafs 2-0. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Any hopes for the Toronto Maple Leafs to make a dazzling run to the playoffs seemed to be dashed after the Leafs 3-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens over the weekend.

However the win against Boston may have changed things and as we’ve seen in previous years the Leafs will dangle your hopes at the playoffs like Joey Crabb dangled Sabres defenders. But unlike Crabb did tonight in Buffalo (scored), the Leafs never seem to finish the job and get into the playoffs.

In 2006, the Leafs went 9-2-1 in the final stretch of the season only to finish two points out of the playoffs and in 2007, they went 10-6-4 in their final 20 games only to finish one point out. So whether this season ends with a playoff birth or not, the Leafs were able to inch closer to that coveted eighth seed in the Eastern Conference with a 2-1 victory against the Buffalo Sabres tonight.

“Everybody chipped in,” coach Ron Wilson told the Globe and Mail. “It was good.”

However while the victory inches the Leafs closer to the Carolina Hurricanes, the news wasn’t all positive in Leaf Land. After starting the game and allowing no goals in the first period, Leafs goaltender J.S Giguere watched the 2nd and 3rd periods from the bench. Giguere has struggled with an ailing groin injury for most of this season and while it’s unknown as of now, it’s believed it’s his groin acting up again. James Reimer came in relief of Giguere and allowed just one goal on 15 shots.

Kessel Steps Up

After breaking a 14 game goal-less drought with a multi-goal performance last night in Boston Phil Kessel potted another goal tonight. The tally gives him 22 on the year (second on the Leafs) and puts him back on pace for a 30-plus goal season.

Going Deep

While the play of the top-six forwards on the Leafs are usually the most talked about, it’s been the play of the bottom-six group that have been leading the Leafs to victory and tonight it really showed. The Leafs depth forwards were able to kill off all four of Buffalo’s powerplays (including three in the first) and Joey Crabb was able to score a shorthanded goal in the third period that gave the Leafs a 2-0 lead. For Crabb it was his first goal since 2009. “I don’t know, I blacked out there for a little bit,” Crabb told the Globe and Mail. “I was pretty happy with that, get that off my back and it was a big goal to help the team out.”

The Leafs will get two days off before facing off with the Ottawa Senators this Saturday. The Senators are currently struggling and sit in last place in the Eastern Conference.

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