Leafs beat the Pens 4-3
TORONTO (AP) – There is an undeniable swagger forming around the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Phil Kessel scored his league-leading 10th goal midway through the third period to lift the Maple Leafs to a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.
After the game, Toronto coach Ron Wilson was unapologetic in thrusting Dion Phaneuf into the spotlight following another solid performance at both ends of the ice.
“Personally, I think by a country mile he’s the best defenseman in the league,” Wilson said. “It’s not even close right now. His numbers show that – his plus-minus, we chart scoring chances and his numbers are off the chart there. I think he’s comfortable in his own skin, he’s comfortable being the captain and he’s healthy.”
Less than a year ago, Wilson refused to concede goalie James Reimer – then a rookie – had a good performance in a game for fear people would start “building statues” in his honor.
The atmosphere seems to have changed in Toronto.
Even though Reimer has been sidelined for a week with whiplash, the Leafs (7-2-1) have continued their stront start as Jonas Gustavsson picked up wins in consecutive appearances for the first time since March 2010.
Mikhail Grabovski, Tim Connolly and Clarke MacArthur also scored for Toronto.
Phaneuf has been in the middle of it all and put in a performance on Saturday that was emblematic of his season so far – he had two assists, hammered Penguins star Evgeni Malkin with a big bodycheck and logged a team-high 27:23 in ice time. – Continue reading recap