Avalanche freeze Leafs 3-2 in OT

Phil Kessel scored his sixth goal in four games, but it wasn't enough as the Leafs fell 3-2 to Colorado Monday night. Photo Courtesy NHL.

David Jones scored the overtime winner as the Colorado Avalanche (5-1) handed the Toronto Maple Leafs (3-1) their first loss of the season in a 3-2 defeat Monday night at the Air Canada Centre.

Jones shoveled in the rebound from a Kyle Quincey shot past a floundering James Reimer to seal the win for the Avs.

The young and speedy Colorado team finishes a five-game road trip with a perfect record thanks to the OT victory.

Milan Hejduk and Daniel Winnik scored the other Avalanche goals, while red-hot Phil Kessel and Nikolai Kulemin converted for Toronto.

Former Maple Leaf goaltender J.S. Giguere made 27 saves for the win in first game back in Toronto since departing as a free agent in the summer.

Reimer made 21 saves with a 0.875% save percentage in the loss.

Two Toronto players faced their old clubs in the game as former Avs John-Michael Liles and Philippe Dupuis suited up for Toronto.

Colorado’s relentless puck-pursuit treated Liles to nearly two minutes of uninterrupted pressure in Toronto’s defensive zone off of the opening faceoff.

The Avalanche caught the Leafs off-guard with their puck pursuit, and Toronto struggled to find its rhythm for the first seven minutes.

Liles snuck in from the blue-line for the first quality scoring chance of the contest, but Giguere turned him away with a quick pad save.

Toronto’s power play was unable to cash in on a pair of hooking penalties by Hejduk in the first period thanks to some strong penalty killing by the Avalanche, most notably rookie Gabriel Landeskog.

Over the course of the night the Leafs were 0-for-4 on the power play, an area of their game that has been a struggle thus far in the young season. Toronto’s power play has only converted on 9.5 per cent of its opportunities.

Kessel opened the scoring unassisted with a wrist shot that screamed past Giguere’s right ear and into the top corner of the net to give Toronto a 1-0 lead just 19 seconds into the middle frame.

Named the NHL’s first star in the opening week, Kessel exploded offensively to begin his season, leading the league in scoring with five goals, three assists and a plus-seven rating.

Daniel Winnik tied the score at 3:31, converting on a Ryan O’Reilly drop-pass, and quieting the Air Canada Centre crowd. Jan Hejda drew the other Colorado assist.

Hejduk made it 2-1 for the Avalanche at 14:14 of the second period with Tyler Bozak in the penalty box. Colorado’s veteran sniper fired a shot through Reimer with Erik Johnson and Paul Stastny drawing the helpers.

Heading into the game Colorado’s power play was third in the NHL, rolling at a 30 per cent success rate, and notched its seventh goal of the year with the man-advantage on Hejduk’s tally.

Following a sequence of frenzied pressure Nikolai Kulemin knotted the score 2-2 at 15:17 of the third period, converting a juicy rebound into the equalizing marker.

Dion Phaneuf took a pass from Clarke MacArthur and fired it on net to set up Kulemin’s first goal of the season, forcing the game into extra time where Jones ended it.

About this article

By: Ryan Fines
Posted: Oct 17 2011 10:06 pm
Filed under: Hockey Sports