Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Surging Leafs win fifth-straight game

GLENDALE, Ariz.—Coming off a four-game losing streak, the Toronto Maple Leafs put an emphasis on getting off to better starts.
They’ve been doing just that and it’s led to their longest win streak in seven years.

Jonathan Bernier stopped 39 shots, and the Maple Leafs used a fast start to kick off another big scoring night, doubling the Phoenix Coyotes 4-2 last night for their first five-game winning streak since 2007.
“It feel great and feels great for a goalie, too,” Bernier said of getting off to fast starts.
“That’s our main focus; we know if we score the first goal in this league, you have a good chance to win,” he added.
With Bernier making some tough saves early, Toronto jumped out to a 3-0 lead by the second period.
The Maple Leafs withstood a flurry of shots by Phoenix—thanks also to some near-misses by the Coyotes—and pulled away to win five-straight games for the first time since Jan. 27-Feb. 6, 2007.
Phil Kessel had a goal and an assist to extend his points streak to six games. Jake Gardiner and Nazem Kadri also had a goal and an assist while Carl Gunnarsson scored his first goal in nearly a year.
Buoyed by their fast starts, the Leafs have scored 20 goals during their winning streak.
“We feel this group can continue to grow and play to a higher level—enough talking about it,” said Toronto coach Randy Carlyle.
“Action speaks louder than words, and we have to continue to challenge this group to play better and become a playoff team,” he stressed.
The Coyotes had plenty of chances. Most of them were turned away by Bernier, a few by the goal posts, and numerous others just missed the mark—leading to a frustrating loss.
Phoenix matched a team record by scoring a power-play goal in eight-straight games when Mike Ribeiro scored early in the third period.
Antoine Vermette added a short-handed goal.
“It’s disappointing,” Vermette said.
“We felt out there we had a lot of great scoring chances and we had a good night, but it went to them.”
The first two periods were filled with near-misses for the Coyotes: Lauri Korpikoski hit the crossbar in the first period, Oliver Ekman-Larsson the post in the second, and Shane Doan couldn’t corral a stretch pass for a breakaway.
Phoenix had numerous other shots just miss the goal and Bernier made some spectacular saves, including a sliding stop on a one-time by Ekman-Larsson on a power play.
The Coyotes had 27 shots on goal and 16 other shots through the first two periods.
“Their goalie was playing well,” noted Coyotes’ coach Dave Tippett.
“I think he was fortunate to have a few pucks hit the crossbar and things like that.
“But when you’re having a night we were, those bounces go the other way.”
Elsewhere in the NHL, San Jose edged Calgary 3-2, the N.Y. Islanders nipped Philadelphia 4-3 (SO), Boston shaded L.A. 3-2, Florida dumped Pittsburgh 5-1, St. Louis beat Detroit 4-1, and Nashville downed Dallas 4-1.

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