The Toronto Maple Leafs have done it again; namely, crashed out of the running for the Stanley Cup play-offs for the seventh season in a row. The Canadians needed a win in their match against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night, but wound up losing 3-0. The ‘Canes go through in their stead.
An aura of doom seemed to hang over the Air Canada Centre long before Jussi Jokinen claimed the first of Carolina’s three goals at 13:05. The stunned silence that accompanied the winger’s goal must have been taken as a sign of things to come by the home crowd – and they were not wrong.
Tim Brent’s goal five minutes later added a hint of controversy to a miserable evening for the Maple Leafs. The strike appeared to hit the post and ricochet back out of the net, much to the confusion of the commentators and, indeed, the players themselves. The goal was allowed to stand by the officials, prompting a chorus of boos from the home fans.
In the wake of the second goal, Leaf’s tender, Jonas Gustavsson, was replaced by Finnish debutant, Jussi Rynnas. Gustavsson was subjected to another volley of jeers from the dejected crowd, as he skated off. The substitution did little to help the Leafs’ cause: Jay Harrison grabbed the Hurricanes’ third at the outset of the second period.
Toronto coach, Randy Carlyle, tried to deflect criticism away from the two goalies, by stating: “I was more disappointed with the way we turned the puck over in the middle of the ice in the first period”. Carlyle added that the Leafs had tried to play a “cute game”, rather than taking the tie to the Hurricanes.
“Whatever they [Carolina] shot at the net seemed to find a way to go through our goaltender”, the coach lamented.