Less than 24 hours after being named the Toronto Maple Leafs new head coach, Randy Carlyle has helped his squad snap a six-game losing streak. Toronto, who slipped all the way down to 12th place in the Eastern Conference prior to Saturday’s game, earned a 3-1 victory over the rival Montreal Canadiens.
Although goaltending was a big issue for Toronto last month, that certainly wasn’t the case for them on Saturday. Jonas Gustavsson was given the first chance to make a good impression on the new bench boss and rose to the occasion. He kicked out 21 of 22 shots to earn his first victory since Jan. 21.
Toronto outshot the Canadiens in every period, but things got far more lopsided in the final 20 minutes with the Leafs getting 17 shots to Montreal’s five. Mikhail Grabovski scored two goals and ended his 14-game goal scoring drought in the process. Grabovski also got the lone assist on Matt Frattin’s sixth goal of the season.
On the Canadiens side of thing, Carey Price saved 39 shots, but he still ended up with his fifth loss in his last six starts. Meanwhile, David Desharnais registered an assist to extend his point streak to four games.
Toronto has to get hot if they want to have any chance of making the playoffs and that’s a tall order given their upcoming opponents. Toronto will play against Boston, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Washington next week. Anything less than three wins in those four games will likely be seen as a setback that the Leafs can ill afford at this point in the season.
For Montreal, their chances of making the playoffs have come and gone. Although they are not mathematically out of the race, they have no realistic shot of going from last to eighth place in the Eastern Conference in the final month of the season.