x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Toronto slump to worst start in franchise history

The Toronto Maple Leafs managed to set a record over the weekend: the worst start to a season in the history of the franchise, one of the NHL's Original Six.

The Rangers' Michal Rozsival and the Canadiens' Tomas Plekanec tangle behind the net.
The Rangers' Michal Rozsival and the Canadiens' Tomas Plekanec tangle behind the net.

The Toronto Maple Leafs, who have gone more than four decades without bringing a Stanley Cup to Canada's biggest and richest city, managed to set a record over the weekend: the worst start to a season in the history of the franchise, one of the NHL's Original Six. The Leafs' 3-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday kept them winless after eight games, the only team in the league still seeking a first victory.

The Leafs had travelled to Vancouver for the start of a five-game road trip hoping that a week-long break would help them to bounce back, and they had plenty of scoring chances early in the game but could not get the puck past the Canucks' goaltender Roberto Luongo, who made 35 saves. "Roberto gave us a chance to win this game," said the Canucks' coach, Alain Vigneault. "They played a really strong game, they had a lot of scoring chances, but our goaltender was the best player on the ice."

Mason Raymond and Ryan Kesler scored power play goals for the Canucks in the first period, with Raymond getting a second goal when Toronto pulled their netminder just before the final whistle. Niklas Hagman scored Toronto's consolation goal. In Montreal, meanwhile, the Leafs' oldest rivals continued their revival after a slow start to the season. The Canadiens beat the New York Rangers 5-4, with the winner coming in overtime from Mike Cammalleri - his third goal of the game. Matt D'Agostini and Marc-Andre Bergeron also scored for the Canadiens, while Marian Gaborik, Matt Gilroy, Artem Anisimov and Ales Kotalik scored for New York.

Elsewhere in the NHL, the New Jersey Devils snapped the Pittsburgh Penguins' winning streak at seven with a 4-1 victory, while Danny Briere had two goals for the Philadelphia Flyers as they cruised to a 5-1 win over the Florida Panthers in a game marred by an injury to David Booth, the Florida left winger. Booth was carried off the ice on a stretcher after taking a hard blow to the face from the Flyers' captain Mike Richards, who was given a major penalty for interference and a game misconduct for intent to injure.

The Washington Capitals edged the New York Islanders 3-2 in overtime, the Boston Bruins beat the Ottawa Senators 4-3 on a shootout goal by Patrice Bergeron, the San Jose Sharks beat the Atlanta Thrashers 4-3 and the Buffalo Sabres overcame the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 in a shootout. * With agencies