Phil Kessel, Tyler Bozak

Maple Leafs defeat Coyotes, win their fifth straight

Don’t look now, but the Toronto Maple Leafs are on a five-game winning streak.

Yes. The Maple Leafs were outshot badly, which has happened many times this season. They got stellar goaltending from Jonathan Bernier, who made 39 saves, and defeated the Phoenix Coyotes by a final of 4-2 on Monday night.

In this streak, they’ve exorcised some of the demons from last year’s playoff collapse by defeating the Bruins in Boston, and put together a solid effort in beating one of their most storied historical rivals, the Montreal Canadiens, in front of a national television audience on Hockey Night in Canada.

“We’ve found out that winning is fun,” said Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner, as per Chris Johnston of Sportsnet.

Gardiner had a two-point night, opening the scoring in the first period. The Leafs jumped out to a three-goal lead after two periods, with Carl Gunnarsson scoring his first of the season. It also turned out to be the winner.

This streak happens to fall immediately after a four-game losing skid, in which the Leafs were outscored a total of 21-7 in that span. Yikes. That losing skid was part of a greater, overall struggle since the beginning of November.

Bettman to players: Don’t screw up ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ with drugs

Gary Bettman
Leave a comment

The NHL wants to take an educational approach — not a punitive one — to deter its players from using illicit drugs like cocaine.

“My interest is not to go around punishing people,” Bettman told Sportsnet today.

“My interest is getting players to understand the consequences of doing something that could jeopardize this great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they’ve been given, to play in the NHL.”

While some players have expressed surprise at hearing that cocaine use is growing, the anecdotal evidence of substance abuse has been very much in the news, from Jarret Stoll‘s arrest to Mike Richards’ arrest to, more recently, Zack Kassian‘s placement in the NHL/NHLPA’s treatment program.

“We don’t have the unilateral right to do things here. We need the consent of the Players’ Association,” Bettman said. “It’s not about punishment. It’s about making sure we get it to stop.”

Related: Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?

Goalie nods: Jones makes Sharks debut against ex-Kings mates

Martin Jones
1 Comment

News and notes from around the crease…

Jones goes for San Jose

Martin Jones, acquired by the Sharks this summer, will make his first regular-season start for the club tonight against his old team — the Los Angeles Kings.

Jones, 25, spent the last two years in L.A. as Jonathan Quick‘s understudy. He was flipped to Boston at the NHL Entry Draft, then shipped to San Jose. Sharks GM Doug Wilson wasted little time locking Jones in — signing him to a three-year, $9 million extension — and Jones wasted little time locking up the No. 1 gig, putting together a stellar preseason.

For the Kings, Quick will get the start in goal.

Markstrom out for Vancouver

Jacob Markstrom wasn’t scheduled to start for the Canucks tonight — No. 1 Ryan Miller is getting the call — but the Swedish ‘tender won’t even dress when his club takes on the Flames in Calgary.

Markstrom suffered a lower-body injury at practice this week and is being held out of tonight’s action. In his place, the Canucks called up AHL netminder Richard Bachman, who’ll serve as Miller’s backup.

For the Flames, Karri Ramo is the opening-night starter.


Habs at Leafs: Carey Price vs. Jonathan Bernier

Rangers at ‘Hawks: Henrik Lundqvist vs. Corey Crawford