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Toronto Maple Leafs December 2008 Game Summaries

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The following is a list of game summaries featured on the main page of this wiki for the month of December 2008. The summaries feature a brief summary of the game in question, as well as a link to a more detailed statistical summary from an official source.


December 1, 2008
Toronto Maple Leafs 3 - Los Angeles Kings 1

Facing an early barrage from a quick-tempo team, Vesa Toskala stood his ground and kept his team in the game until the offense arrived, as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Los Angeles Kings on December 1, 2008. In his third consecutive solid start, Toskala stopped 32 out of 33 Kings shots, and was the key to limiting the King's potent offensive combination of Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Alexander Frolov to a lone Frolov goal. Matt Stajan and Mikhail Grabovski continue to be the offensive catalysts for the Maple Leafs, each scoring power play goals within one and a half minutes of each other in the third. Jeff Finger sealed the victory for the Maple Leafs with an empty net goal with ten seconds remaining in the game. Lee Stempniak continues to produce well for the Maple Leafs after coming over by trade, adding an assist on Stajan's goal. The point gives Stempniak three points in four games since joining the Maple Leafs. There continues to be consistent improvement in the Maple Leafs' power play game, as the team added two power play goals in the victory, going 2-7 on the man advantage overall. The victory was the Maple Leafs' second straight, and was the first time the Maple Leafs have won two consecutive games since November 1.

December 2, 2008
Toronto Maple Leafs 2 - San Jose Sharks 5

Joe Thornton continued his hot string of play of late, as he scored one goal and added three assists as the San Jose Sharks defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 on December 2, 2008. The four-point performance was Thornton's seventh multi-point game in his last nine. Vesa Toskala struggled for the Leafs on this night, allowing five goals on thirty shots. The Leafs goaltender seemed overwhelmed at times by the potent offensive attack of the Sharks. Toskala came in to the game having won his last two starts, but seemed burned out by the west coast road trip the Maple Leafs are currently playing through. Niklas Hagman was one of the lone offensive standouts for the Leafs on this night, scoring a goal and adding an assist. Mikhail Grabovski continued his stellar rookie campaign, adding two assists on the night to his season point total. Nikolai Kulemin rounded out the scoring for the Maple Leafs. Patrick Marleau, Devin Setoguchi and Joe Pavelski each had two-point nights for the Sharks. Pavelski scored a goal while shorthanded for the Sharks, adding to the misery of the night for the Leafs. While the Leafs did manage to outshoot the Sharks 31-30, Evgeni Nabokov was stellar in goal for the Sharks, limiting any chance of a Leafs comeback.

December 4, 2008
Toronto Maple Leafs 3 - Phoenix Coyotes 6

Martin Hanzal scored a hat-trick, and Steven Reinprecht scored two third-period goals as the Phoenix Coyotes defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-3 on December 4, 2008. The victory was the Coyotes fourth in their last five games, their third win on their four-game homestand. It was the second straight loss for the Toronto. The Maple Leafs appeared to have a chance at victory early on, keeping pace with the Coyotes for the first two periods. The Maple Leafs scored 3 goals on nine shots off of Phoenix starting goaltender Mikael Tellqvist, forcing the Coyotes to change to Ilya Bryzgalov. However, in the third period, the Coyotes were propelled to victory by Reinprecht's two goals and a late-period goal from Todd Fedoruk. The Maple Leafs were unable to mount a late comeback, as Bryzgalov stopped all nine shots he faced. Alexei Ponikarovsky scored two goals for the Maple Leafs, while Jason Blake had a goal and two assists in the loss. Vesa Toskala struggled again for the Maple Leafs, allowing six goals on only 26 shots. The Maple Leafs were uncharacteristically unable to outshoot an opponent on this night, and only put 18 shots on the goal. The game ended on a rough note, as Daniel Carcillo and Andre Deveaux each received misconduct penalties and game ejections for an incident late in the third.

December 6, 2008
Washington Capitals 2 - Toronto Maple Leafs 1

In a game marred by an injury to star rookie defenceman Luke Schenn, the Maple Leafs looked sluggish and uncoordinated, losing to the Washington Capitals 2-1 on December 6, 2008. In addition to losing Schenn, who left the game with a lower-body injury and is expected to miss at least two weeks, the Maple Leafs also lost forward Niklas Hagman, who left the game after a shot to the head and is listed as day-to-day. The drastically shortened bench hampered the already-weary Maple Leafs, who were coming off of a arduous western coast road trip. The Capitals, who have been experiencing injury troubles from their defensive core as well, took advantage of the Maple Leafs' tired play and earned their first road victory since November 29. Rookie Karl Alzner scored his first NHL goal for the Capitals, while Milan Jurcina scored the game-winner for Washington. Nik Antropov scored the lone goal for the Maple Leafs, but it was not enough to overcome the manpower and readiness deficit the team faced all night. Vesa Toskala played well for the Maple Leafs in the loss, allowing only 2 goals on 30 shots. The game was a rebound night for Toskala, who had looked inconsistent in previous outings.

December 8, 2008
New York Islanders 2 - Toronto Maple Leafs 4

In his first game of the season with the Maple Leafs, recent AHL call-up Jeremy Williams surpassed expectations with a two point night, propelling the Maple Leafs to a 4-2 victory over the New York Islanders. Williams had a goal and an assist in the game, the former being the goal that sealed the victory for the Maple Leafs. Jason Blake also had a strong performance for Toronto, as he had a goal and two assists, the goal being the game winner. The Islanders kept the score within reach for much of the game, as goals from Bill Guerin and Mike Sillinger kept the Islanders within one goal of tying the game. However, Williams's goal eight minutes into the third period erased any hopes of an Islander comeback, and gave the Maple Leafs the confidence to protect the lead, something that has been somewhat of a rare feat in recent history. Nikolai Kulemin and Ian White were the other goal scorers on the night for the Maple Leafs, who badly outshot their Islander opponents to a margin of 37-28. Islanders' goaltender Joey MacDonald was responsible for keeping the score so close, but it was two unfortunate goals that slipped past Maple Leafs goaltender Vesa Toskala that kept the game from heading out of reach. Despite the two mishaps, Toskala still performed well with 26 saves on the night.

December 12, 2008
Toronto Maple Leafs 2 - Buffalo Sabres 1

After missing 13 games due to a myriad of injuries stemming from a hit into the boards, Mike Van Ryn returned to the lineups for Toronto, aiding the team to a 2-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on December 12, 2008. Van Ryn had over 19 minutes of ice time in his return, as registered 4 shots on goal while being a +1 on the night. Jeremy Williams continued his strong offensive play for the Maple Leafs since being recalled, scoring the first Toronto goal on the night. The goal gave Williams 2 goals and 3 points in his first two games of the 2008-09 season. Ian White scored the game-winning goal for the Maple Leafs with a goal eight minutes into the third period. Just prior to White's game winner, the Maple Leafs were forced to kill of a four-minute double minor penalty received by Lee Stempniak. Stempniak was called for high-sticking Sabres' Andrej Sekera, and drawing blood. With 16 seconds left in the Stempniak penalty, Jeff Finger was called for hooking, resulting in the Maple Leafs being forced to spend a combined time of 5:44 on continuous penalty kill. Toronto's 27th ranked penalty kill was able to maintain composure and defend the Sabre's power play. Toronto goaltender Vesa Toskala looked especially sharp on the night, allowing only a single Toni Lydman goal off of 25 Buffalo shots.

December 16, 2008
New Jersey Devils 2 - Toronto Maple Leafs 3 (SO)

Jeremy Williams continued his strong play for Toronto, and Jason Blake showed a touch of creative imagination in a crucial moment, as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the New Jersey Devils 3-2 in a shootout on December 16, 2008. Williams scored his third goal in three games since his call up from the Toronto Marlies, while Blake scored the game-winning shootout goal on a unique spinning move that beat Devils' goaltender Scott Clemmensen. Nik Antropov scored the first goal on the night for the Maple Leafs, while Mike Rupp and Zach Parise scored the regulation goals for the Devils. The game featured little scoring chances past the midway point of the second period, as both teams' defences maintained a tight lockdown on any real offensive opportunities. Maple Leafs' goaltender Vesa Toskala was stellar in goal on the night, stopping 25 of 27 New Jersey shots, including a crucial save off of Travis Zajac in the final seconds of overtime to send the game into shootout. Toskala also stopped three of four Devils shooters during the shootout, allowing Blake to win the game for Toronto.

December 18, 2008
Toronto Maple Leafs 5 - Boston Bruins 8

In a game with considerable defensive missteps by Toronto, and a game that could have ended with a far more lopsided result, the Boston Bruins defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 8-5 on December 18, 2008. Bruins forward David Krejci scored his first career hat trick in the game, while fellow Boston forward Phil Kessel added two goals in a game that saw Boston with a 5-1 lead midway through the game, only to suffer through a partial Toronto comeback. Leafs starting goaltender Vesa Toskala was pulled from the game in the first period after allowing 2 goals on five shots in the first five minutes of the game. He was replaced by backup Curtis Joseph, who allowed the remaining 6 Bruins goals. Bruins starter Tim Thomas also struggled, despite the Boston victory, as he was removed from the game after the second period when Toronto closed the score gap to a margin of 6-5. Replacement Manny Fernandez did not allow a goal in the third period. Pavel Kubina, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Nik Antropov, Mikhail Grabovski and Jason Blake provided the goals for Toronto on the night, in a game that saw the end of the Maple Leafs' 3-game winning streak.

  • Complete Recap & Box Score Available at nhl.com
December 20, 2008
Toronto Maple Leafs 7 - Pittsburgh Penguins 3

A game after suffering a defensive collapse against the Boston Bruins, the Toronto Maple Leafs took control of the game and refused to break under pressure, defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins 7-3 on December 20, 2008. Maple Leafs' leading scorer Nik Antropov lead the offensive attack for Toronto, scoring a goal and adding two assists. Tomas Kaberle continued his strong streak of playmaking prowess, recording 3 assists in the game. Alexei Ponikarovsky and Pavel Kubina each had a goal and an assist in the game, while Dominic Moore, Jeremy Williams, Jonas Frogren and Niklas Hagman added goals for the Leafs. Frogren's goal was his first in the NHL. Defenceman Jaime Sifers recorded his first NHL point on an assist on Antropov's goal in the third period. Despite pressures of a possible Pittsburgh comeback, Toronto consistently answered any attempt the Penguins made at closing the gap in the score. Petr Sykora scored two goals in the loss for the Penguins, while Evgeni Malkin also scored for Pittsburgh. Toronto starting goaltender Vesa Toskala stopped 20 of 23 shots in the victory en route to earning his thirteenth victory of the season for the Leafs.

December 22, 2008
Toronto Maple Leafs 6 - Atlanta Thrashers 2

In his first NHL game with the Maple Leafs, Justin Pogge lived up to his billing as goaltender of the future by leading Toronto to a 6-2 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers on December 22, 2008. Only a day after being recalled from the Toronto Marlies, Pogge made 19 saves in the Maple Leafs victory, including two key pad saves that would have allowed the Thrashers to close the Toronto lead. Pogge was given the start due to the schedule of back-to-back games Toronto faced this week, and also due to an injury suffered by regular starting goaltender Vesa Toskala. Matt Stajan scored two goals and an assist on the night for Toronto, while Nik Antropov had a goal and two assists as well for the Maple Leafs. Jeremy Williams, Alexei Ponikarovsky and Dominic Moore also had two point games in the victory. Niklas Hagman rounded out the scoring for Toronto, scoring in his second game back after missing time due to a head injury. The victory, the second in a row for Toronto, put the Maple Leafs' record above the .500 margin once again, and moved them within three points of the Buffalo Sabres, who currently occupy the eighth spot in the NHL's Eastern Conference.

December 23, 2008
Dallas Stars 8 - Toronto Maple Leafs 2

In the last game before the NHL holiday break, the Toronto Maple Leafs appeared sluggish and distracted, losing to in a romp to the Dallas Stars by a score of 8-2 on December 23, 2008. Stars' forward James Neal had a hat trick in the game, on a night where six seperate players scored for Dallas. Toronto starting goaltender Vesa Toskala struggled immensely after missing a game due to a groin strain, allowing 7 goals on 20 shots in little over thirty minutes of playing time. Toskala was replaced mid-way through the second period in favour of backup Curtis Joseph. On a night of little positives for the Maple Leafs, forward Andre Deveaux recorded his first NHL point with an assist on a Mikhail Grabovski goal in the third period. Deveaux was also a participant in two fights on the night, which, coupled with a roughing minor received in the first period, brought his season penalty minutes total to 48. Deveaux leads the Maple Leafs in that category, despite only playing in 13 games. Jason Blake also scored for Toronto, who are now on break until December 26 when they will play the New York Islanders.

December 26, 2008
Toronto Maple Leafs 1 - New York Islanders 4

In his first game in over two months, New York goaltender Rick DiPietro lead his team to a strong victory, as the New York Islanders defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1 on December 26, 2008. DiPietro showed little effects from the injury that had sidelined him, making 28 of a possible 29 saves en route to the Islanders' win. New York forward Bill Guerin lead the scoring attack for the team, recording two goals on the night, including the 400th goal of his NHL career. Toronto goaltender Vesa Toskala continued to look uncomfortable in goal, losing his second straight game after returning from a short leave due to a groin injury. Toskala allowed all four Islander goals on 31 shots, including a goal off of a sharp angle shot from Islander forward Kyle Okposo that deflected in off of Toskala's blocker hand. Lee Stempniak scored the lone goal for the Maple Leafs, while Matt Stajan recorded an assist on the goal, bringing his team-leading points total to an even 30. The loss was the Maple Leafs' second straight.

December 28, 2008
Toronto Maple Leafs 1 - Washington Capitals 4

Alexander Ovechkin continued his recent scoring dominance, while Washington continued its strong winning play on home ice, as the Capitals defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1 on December 28, 2008. Ovechkin scored 2 goals on the night for the Capitals, including the game winner. Brooks Laich also scored two goals in the victory for Washington, rounding out the scoring. The victory improved Washington's home record to an Eastern Conference-best 15-1-1. The victory also moved the Capitals ahead of the New York Rangers into second place in the Eastern Conference standings with 49 points on the year. It was an unremarkable night for Maple Leafs' starting goaltender Vesa Toskala, although he did show marked improvement over his past few outings, stopping 25 of 28 shots in the loss. Toronto forward Niklas Hagman scored the lone goal on the night for the Maple Leafs when he scored the opening goal of the game in the first period. The Capitals went on the score four unanswered goals over the final two periods. The loss was the third in a row for the Maple Leafs, during which they have been outscored 16-4 by their opponents.

December 30, 2008
Atlanta Thrashers 3 - Toronto Maple Leafs 4 (OT)

In his resoundingly best start of the season, Toronto goaltender Curtis Joseph earned his 450th career NHL victory as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Atlanta Thrashers 4-3 in overtime on December 30, 2008. With heavy criticism befalling regular Leafs goaltender Vesa Toskala, Joseph was given a rare start, despite his lackluster statistics going into the game. Joseph and the Leafs struggled at the outset of the game, as the Thrashers took an early 2-0 lead after Bryan Little and Jim Slater scored past Joseph. Toronto was able to regain its composure, however, and scored three straight goals, thanks to goals from Nikolai Kulemin, Lee Stempniak, and Jason Blake. Atlanta forward Colby Armstrong responded for the Thrashers midway through the third period, tying the game with a power play goal. The game remained tied at the end of the third period, and entered into overtime. However, Atlanta defenceman Tobias Enstrom had taken a penalty with nine seconds left in the third period, giving the Maple Leafs a power play opportunity at the beginning of the overtime period. The Leafs capitalized on the chance, as Pavel Kubina scored the game winning goal off a slap shot from the point. The victory, which saw Toronto outshoot the Thrashers 47-32, broke the Maple Leafs' three game losing streak.

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