Here we go, Leafs fans. Three nights after its first loss of the season, Toronto dropped its second straight tonight, 2-1 to the Rangers at Air Canada Centre. New York scored two goals on Jonas Gustavsson in 61 seconds late in the first period, then sat back and watched Marty Biron stop 24 of 25 Leafs shots, with a Colby Armstrong put-back off a Clarke MacArthur shot accounting for Toronto’s only goal midway through the third.
To be honest, I still find neither a four-game winning streak or a two-game losing streak anything worth getting too worked about about at this point, since even the best and worst teams in the league are likely to run off a bunch of each over the course of any season. That said, I’m not declaring the Leafs start to the year a flash in the pan — I’m just saying there’s a lot of season left to play.
Coming off a one-goal effort against the Islanders and without a goal in the first two periods tonight, Ron Wilson decided to shake things up going into the third, yanking goal-less center Tyler Bozak off the top line and handing him a little over two minutes of action in the final frame. Toronto got a similarly quiet night from Phil Kessel, who managed just three shots on net and was held out of the goal column for just the second time in six games.
As mentioned, Gustavsson got the start between the pipes for the Leafs — his second of the season — and was impressive outside his ill-fated stretch in the first, stopping 30 of 32 New York shots in the loss. The Rangers, who the Leafs beat in overtime at Madison Square Garden last Friday, grabbed their second win in five games and first since opening night, when they won 6-3 in Buffalo.
The loss leaves Toronto at 4-1-1-1, which is still good for tops in the Northeast with nine points, though Boston lingers just a point behind with a game in hand. Holding them off for another 76 games won’t be too tough, right? The Leafs, by the way, are back in action Saturday, when they’re in Philadelphia to face the Flyers.