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Toskala wilts in return
3 goals in 3rd period comeback
1/12/08 - by Mike Lee

Vesa Toskala made his not-so-triumphant return to HP Pavilion on Saturday night, in the Toronto Maple Leafs first game in San Jose in over five years. Toskala looked poised to stump his former team, but a 3rd period collapse by the Leafs gave the Sharks an impressive 3-2 come-from-behind victory. San Jose took advantage of a flurry of Toronto penalties to score all three goals in the final 19 minutes of regulation.

12 years after the Sharks drafted Toskala, the prodigal goaltender faced his former team for the first time. Toronto acquired Toskala, along with Mark Bell last summer in an attempt to shore up a goaltending situation that has been nothing but deficient for several years.

After a rocky start this season, Toskala has come on of late, solidifying his position as the Leafs number one goaltender. His play over the first 40 minutes of Saturday's game demonstrated why the Leafs gave up a 1st round draft pick for the netminder.

His teammates spoiled the return with a number of gaffs that ended up in the back of Toronto's net.

The Leafs got off to a quick start, scoring just 3:19 into the game on a bang-bang play that started with Mats Sundin circling around the back of the Sharks net to the right wing boards, then rifling a pass to Nik Antropov, who deposited a one timer past Evgeni Nabokov. The Sharks were guilty of watching the play unfold as Sundin skated away from the Sharks net.

The Sharks traded Toskala last summer in order to give Toskala a chance to play as a starter, but also to commit to Nabokov as their fulltime starter. That commitment got a jolting reminder of why having two starters on the roster was such a luxury after Nabokov got his bell rung on a play that ended with him laid out on the ice for several seconds.

With Marcel Goc in the penalty box for hooking, the fog may not have completely lifted from Nabokov's head on the ensuing power play. Pavel Kubina made it 2-0 with a blast that Nabokov seemed to have a good look at, but it sailed through the 5-hole.

The Sharks began to turn up the heat in the 2nd period, out-shooting the Leafs 14-7, but Toskala kept the Sharks at bay.

The beginning of the great Leafs collapse began when Boyd Devereaux drew a slashing penalty 41 seconds before the 2nd intermission. Toronto made it to the break unscathed, but the Sharks would break the ice a minute into the final period. Patrick Marleau uncorked a blast from the point that Toskala got a piece of, but it fluttered into the goal.

Marleau's goal completely changed the complexion of the game. With 2 wins in their past 13 games, the Leafs were playing not to lose. The Sharks smelled blood and attacked.

Things got worse for Toronto after Jiri Tlusty was called for holding Joe Pavelski's stick, then Hall Gill was sent off for cross checking 43 seconds later. Sharks defenseman Craig Rivet wasted no time taking advantage of the 2-man advantage, beating Toskala with a shot from the high slot.

That would allow Tlusty to return to the contest, but Gill's penalty continued. San Jose failed to score on the remainder of Gill's penalty, but that would change 17 seconds later.

Jonathan Cheechoo would crank a shot on goal from the left wing boards, that Joe Pavelski would tip past Toskala. The puck changed directions enouh to sail past Toskala's glove and into the Toronto net.

Toronto head coach Paul Maurice would pull Toskala with a minute left in regulation, but Nabokov turn aside a Sundin wrist shot. The Leafs would get no closer, after the Sharks defense blocked three shot attempts out of the zone.

Game Notes:

The Sharks 2-man advantage was almost cut short by the clock operator, who let 20 seconds tick off the clock after the whistle blew on Gil's penalty. After a lengthy review, the correct time was added back to the clock. Several hundred Maple Leafs fans were in attendance.

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1 2 3 T
TOR 1 1 0 2
SJ 0 0 3 3
1st period - 1, TOR, Antropov 17 (Sundin), 3:19.
2nd period - 2, TOR, Kubina 3 (Kaberle, Toskala), 1:42, (pp).
3rd period - 3, SJ, Marleau 8 (Thornton, Bernier), 1:09, (pp). 4, SJ, Rivet 5 (Marleau, Thornton), 8:31, (pp). 5, SJ, Pavelski 9 (Cheechoo, Carle), 10:21.
1st period - Marleau, SJ (delay of game - puck over glass), 7:50.
2nd period - Goc, SJ (hooking), 1:16; Gill, TOR (delay of game - puck over glass), 2:25; Devereaux, TOR (slashing), 19:19.
3rd period - Tlusty, TOR (holding the stick), 7:31; Gill, TOR (cross checking), 8:14; Kilger, TOR (tripping), 13:02; Cheechoo, SJ (hooking), 13:02.
Shots Saves
TOR - Toskala 35 32
SJ - Nabokov 25 23
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
TOR 10 7 8 25
SJ 9 14 12 35
Power Play Conversion
TOR 1 of 2
SJ 2 of 4
3 Stars of the Game
Patrick Marleau
Joe Thornton
Craig Rivet
Referees: Rob Schick, Mark Joanette. Linesmen: Lonnie Cameron, Shane Heyer.

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