Registered: Sep 2014
Local time: 08:51 AM
TORONTO ? He deftly bounced the Tyler Bozak feed off his left skate and onto the blade of his stick before beating a flabbergasted Craig Anderson with the eventual game-winner, and third goal of yet another scorching night. Titans #55 Jersey . It was the summation of the fifth career hat trick and fifth career 30-goal season for Phil Kessel ? he also added an assist ? whose scorching play continues to lead a burning Leafs run, one that reached nine wins in 11 games at the ACC on Saturday night. ?Its fun to watch,? Nazem Kadri said of Kessels play after a 6-3 win over Ottawa, the 23-year-old catching fire himself in recent weeks. ?Hes making plays out there left, right and centre so well just keep letting him do what he does.? Kessel has mesmerized with his electric production amid the Leafs charge ? which has them three points back of Tampa for second in the Atlantic division ? totaling 10 goals and 23 points in the past 12 games. He has vaulted into fourth in league scoring with 61 points, now trailing only Alex Ovechkin with 30 goals ? the fourth time hes reached that mark in five seasons with the Leafs, the lockout-shortened 48-game season the lone exception. The 26-year-old, set to join Team USA for the second time at the upcoming Olympics in Sochi, appears well on his way to eclipsing a career-high of 37 markers and could very well challenge the 40-goal plateau for the first time. ?Its hard to really put a limit on him,? said Bozak, who had a goal and an assist and now has 29 points in 33 games this season. ?He can get so streaky. Three goals tonight, who knows next game. You never know with him. I definitely wouldnt doubt him getting 40 goals by any means.? Kessel is on pace for 43 goals and 88 points, both of which would prove career-highs. Toronto is 16-3-3 when he scores this season and 26-6-4 when he records a point. Five Points 1. Kessel vs. Ottawa With their third win in three tries against the Senators this season, the Leafs have now beaten their Ontario rival nine times in the past 10 meetings. Much of that success is owed to their leading scorer, who toys with Ottawa like no other. Kessel has 18 goals and 35 points versus the Senators in 25 games as a Leaf and more career goals (25) and points (46) against them than any other team. 2. Kessels All-Around Game Though his performance is aptly judged on the level of offence he produces, Kessels all-around efforts and competitiveness have notably risen during the Leafs sizzling run, which sees them with 66 points on the year. Pointing first to the deadly shot and skating ability of his teammate, Joffrey Lupul observed that ?you know when [Kessels] really playing well because of how hes competing on pucks down-low in the offensive end ? turning his back, protecting the puck ? and hes been doing that for a while now. It makes him really effective down there.? Added Randy Carlyle: ?Hes been classified as this one type of player and we think that hes got more of an all-around ability too because he can distribute the puck, he can pass the puck, he can find people, he can do a lot more things than just shoot.? Kessel has 13 assists during the 12-game run. 3. Secondary Hot Streak Kadris hot streak also kept marching on against the Senators. The 23-year-old set up Lupul for the Leafs second goal ? which erased a 2-0 deficit ? infuriating the Ottawa bench as he did so. Aggressive on the forecheck, Kadri connected with rookie defender Cody Ceci from behind before digging out the puck and feeding his teammate, who was all alone parked in front. The visitors believed a penalty should have been called on the hit from behind and the goal waved off. ?I think he turned just to try and give himself a little more room,? Kadri said of Ceci. ?At that point Im just fully committed to hit and I just finished my check. To be honest, I did let up a little bit and the puck was laying there and I just put it in front.? Kadri, who played over 23 minutes (nearing a season-high), also added an empty-netter and has 14 points in the past nine games. He is up to 40 points in 53 games this season. 4. Back on Track In a stretch of 20 games between November and December, Joffrey Lupul failed to find the score-sheet 16 times, producing points (10) in just four games. Bouncing between left and right wing, Lupul played with a rotating cast of centres that included everyone from Jay McClement to James van Riemsdyk to Peter Holland and Trevor Smith. ?You would like to stay on one line the entire year because that means, for me youre staying healthy first of all, and having success with your linemates,? the 30-year-old told the Leaf Report late last month. ?But weve had so many guys in and out of the lineup ? myself included, Clarkson, Kulemin, Bozak, everyones been out ? theres been nothing really set in stone other than Phil and JVR together, thats been pretty much the only thing.? Entrenched with the same linemates ? Nik Kulemin and Nazem Kadri ? for the past eight games, while back at his preferred left wing, Lupul is finding a more consistent offensive touch. He scored his 17th goal against the Senators and now has eight points in the past eight games, totaling 33 points in 48 games this season. ?Hes a different player on the left side,? said Carlyle. 5. Riellys Improvement Questioned on where he had improved most from the start of his first full NHL training camp, 19-year-old Morgan Rielly pointed to the defensive end. ?Id like to think there are a few things Ive improved on,? he told the Leaf Report. ?I would say playing defence in my own end. I think thats an area of the game that as a team weve been trying to improve. I think as we kept practicing that and keep talking about it I think that Ive been able to improve at that. But I think I can keep working at it.? More specifically, Rielly said hes improved in his ability to close out on opposing forwards, sealing them against the glass and thus more quickly erasing offensive opportunities. ?Just trying to end plays,? he said. ?I think that in the past I was just trying to keep them outside. I was a bit too cautious. I think Ill get stronger at just closing in on them and just trying to end the play.? Now paired with Tim Gleason, Riellys defensive assignments are getting tougher and included Ottawa captain Jason Spezza on Saturday evening. Stats-Pack 23 ? Points for Phil Kessel in the past 12 games, totaling 10 goals in that span. 14 ? Points in the past nine games for Nazem Kadri. 8 ? Times in the past nine games that Kadri has registered at least a point. 6 ? Consecutive wins for the Leafs at home, the first time theyve accomplished that feat since Mar.6 ? Apr. 7, 2007 (9-game streak). 26 ? Power-play goals for the Leafs at home this season, most in the NHL. 16-3-3 ? Leafs record this season when Kessel scores a goal. 18 ? Goals for Kessel in 25 career games as a Leaf against Ottawa. 3:43 ? Ice-time for Greg McKegg in his NHL debut. 10-10 ? Toronto penalty kill in the past three games. Special Teams Capsule PP: 1-5Season: 22.7% (3rd) PK: 2-2Season: 78% (28th) Quote of the Night I ?Its a new one for me. To me, its crazy. A guy wears a new pair of skates in the morning, plays the game that night and the next morning hes got lace bite. Go figure. Im at a loss to explain it.? -Randy Carlyle, on the injury which kept Peter Holland out of Saturdays lineup. Quote of the Night II ?Hes talking. Four points and he talks.? -Tyler Bozak, upon seeing the media-relunctant Phil Kessel speaking with reporters. Up Next The Leafs head south, visiting the Panthers in Sunrise on Tuesday before taking on the Lightning in Tampa on Thursday. Titans #20 Jersey . Kane returned to score a goal and added an assist, leading the Winnipeg Jets to a 3-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday night. Titans #73 Jersey . A stick in the gut prevented him from getting off a clean drive, but it earned him the first penalty shot of his career. He converted, and Patrice Bergeron also scored a short-handed goal on Thursday night as the Bruins opened the defence of their Eastern Conference championship with a 3-1 victory over the Lightning.SPOKANE, Wash. -- While he was growing up in Poland, 7-foot-1 Przemek Karnowski played in youth basketball games where he blocked 10 shots. So it was no big deal that he blocked seven shots in leading No. 24 Gonzaga to a 73-51 victory over archrival Saint Marys on Thursday night. "Obviously it does not compare," said the sophomore centre who led the Zags with 15 points and nine rebounds. "I was happy I was able to give my effort for the team." With one starter out of the lineup and two hobbled with injuries, the Zags have been depending on players like Karnowski, Drew Barham and Angel Nunez to step up. All three did Thursday. "We stick together like a family," Karnowski said. "Everyone has to step up a little bit." Kevin Pangos, who is hampered with turf toe, added 15 points and eight rebounds for the Bulldogs (13-2, 3-0 West Coast Conference). Starting forward Sam Dower Jr. played sparingly as he continues to recover from a back injury and starting guard Gary Bell Jr. is out with a broken hand. Gonzaga has won three straight games since losing to Kansas State. The Zags have won 21 straight WCC games spanning three seasons. Saint Marys (10-4, 1-1) played without coach Randy Bennett, who is serving a five-game suspension for NCAA violations. Assistant coach Eran Ganot led the Gaels, who were hurt by poor shooting. Saint Marys in the past decade has battled Gonzaga for supremacy of the WCC, and the teams have met in the past five WCC tournament title games, with the Gaels winning two. Beau Levesque scored 12 points to lead Saint Marys, which shot 31.9 per cent, while Gonzaga shot 49 per cent. The Gaels, who came in averaging 43 per cent from 3-point range, made just 1 of 12 3-point attempts. "We knew we had to guard the 3-point line," Gonzagas Gerard Coleman said. "Thats their forte, how they win games." Nunez added 13 points and Kyle Dranginis had 12 for Gonzaga, which outrebounded the Gaels 39-22. "We took a really good basketball team and guarded them great," Gonzaga coach Mark Few ssaid. Steve McNair Titans Jersey. . "It was probably our best all-around effort of the whole year." It was Gonzagas second straight outstanding defensive game. The Zags beat San Francisco 69-41 on Monday. Bennett will miss the next three games, serving a suspension announced last March for failing to properly monitor the basketball program and other issues. Ganot said the Zags deserved the credit for his teams poor shooting. "We took some tough shots and they defended well," Ganot said. "Defence has been an issue," Ganot said. "Rebounding needs to improve." As for Karnowski, "he caught the ball too easily and too deep," Ganot said. "We didnt do a good job on him tonight." Levesque scored four of Saint Marys first five baskets as the Gaels took an early 10-7 lead. Pangos hit a 3-pointer as Gonzaga went on an 11-2 run for a 19-14 lead. Saint Marys got within 19-18, but the Gonzaga defence clamped down. The Zags scored 10 straight points, including two 3-pointers by Drew Barham, for a 29-18 lead. Saint Marys was held to one field goal and two free throws in the final 7 1/2 minutes of the first half and trailed 36-22. The Gaels shot 32 per cent in the first half and missed all eight of their 3-point attempts. The Zags shot 52 per cent and won the first half rebound battle 23-10. "The middle part of the game was inexcusable," Ganot said. The teams traded baskets early in the second half, with Saint Marys unable to reduce its deficit. Saint Marys did not make a field goal for more than 5 minutes, and Barham and Pangos hit 3-pointers as Gonzaga pushed the lead to 48-31. The Gaels went more than 8 minutes without a field goal in the later stages of the game and fell behind 66-40. The Gaels, who average 77 points per game, won their first nine games of the season, dropped three straight at a tournament in Hawaii, then beat Pacific on Monday. Gonzagas last conference home loss was in 2011 to Saint Marys. The Zags are 66-2 in WCC games in the McCarthey Athletic Center since it opened in 2004. ' ' '