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06.06.2019 02:30
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GLENDALE, Ariz. – Mats Sundin was the captain. Paul Maurice was behind the bench. Andrew Raycroft was starting in goal. And Alex Steen was scoring the game-winning goal as the Maple Leafs reeled off their fifth consecutive win in St. Louis. That was Feb. 6, 2007, a long and often dark run of seven years since the club last won five in a row. But with another standout performance from Jonathan Bernier, among other things, they would finally match the mark again in the Arizona desert on Monday night. “Its always nice to get a couple wins in the backpack,” said Carl Gunnarsson after a 4-2 victory over the Coyotes, “but weve got a long ways to go here. Were not satisfied. We just know that if we keep doing this we can continue this win streak.” The Leafs have been a different team since they were dropped handily by the Hurricanes in Raleigh earlier this month. What was then their third straight loss (en route to four) and a low point in a season veering off the rails seems to have proven a turning point. “We found out winnings fun,” said Jake Gardiner with a large grin. “Practice the other day was light – we had a three-on-three scrimmage and we want more of that. Hopefully we can keep winning.” Though they were outplayed by the Coyotes in the back half of Mondays outing – outshot 29-15 over the final two periods – a once lackadaisical group has found, in recent days, the necessary will to start earning wins with more consistency. Compete was the word head coach Randy Carlyle tossed around repeatedly as the losses mounted in the early days of 2014, but of late, that tenor has changed for the better. “We knew we were a great team – we just didnt compete enough,” said Bernier, who made 39 saves. “Thats the main thing. I think were doing it right now.” Continued brilliance from the 25-year-old between the pipes has also helped, not to mention a scorching run from Phil Kessel, who scored his team-leading 24th goal in the win. “We feel that this group can continue to grow and play to a higher level, but its enough talking about it,” said Carlyle. “Action speaks louder than words. Weve got to continue to grow this group to be a playoff hockey club. That was a statement we made before and were going to continue to make it because we believe in this group; we believe we can play to a higher level; we believe weve got more; and I think they believe theyve got more.” The win streak has nestled the club into the first wild card position, now with 57 points in 51 games. Five Points 1. Berniers Zone Bernier improved to 3-0-0 lifetime against the Coyotes while bumping his save percentage up to .927 this season with the 39-save performance at Jobing.com Arena. His efforts throughout the night were the ultimate difference in the game. “We had some turnovers tonight that were pretty juicy and he definitely bailed us out,” said Gardiner, bailed out in one such instance by Bernier in the opening frame. “I think this is probably one of his better games.” Entrenched as the Leafs first option in goal at the moment, Bernier stopped all 27 shots in the opening two periods, including 15 in a one-sided second frame. His stop on Radim Vrbata with just over eight minutes to go in the third kept the score at 3-1. Nazem Kadri would increase the lead back to three just a few minutes later. “I thought I was seeing the puck pretty good tonight,” said Bernier, who owns a 17-14-4 record this season. 2. Five Straight Only five players from the last Leafs squad to win five straight are even in the league today: Steen, Matt Stajan, Carlo Colaiacovo, Hal Gill, and Nik Antropov. 3. Kessels Scorching Run Phil Kessel had two points before the first period even closed in Phoenix, extending his point streak to six games. The 26-year-old has four goals and 12 points in that span, now up to 50 points in 51 games this season – good for seventh (tie) in league scoring. “When he gets hot hes one of those guys that everything he shoots has a chance to go in,” said Carlyle of Kessel. “Hes got a skill-set that the puck follows him around. Those are signs of great players.” 4. Source of Success Cody Franson described what he believed to be the source of the teams recent success. “I think weve played a tighter brand of hockey,” said Franson before Mondays game. “Weve managed the puck a little better and weve really just had everybody get on the same page and buy in. We havent had any nights where guys were trying to do a little too much or we didnt have any passengers. Just the whole team coming together as one has made it a little easier for us to execute our game-plan.” 5. Gardiners Showing Jake Gardiner had yet to post a multipoint night this season before boasting his fourth goal of the season and an assist against Phoenix. But despite the fine offensive numbers, the 23-year-old had his share of struggles in the desert, especially with the puck. A giveaway early in the first preceded a terrific opportunity for Vrbata – one that was turned away by Bernier – and then later that period another giveaway led to Lauri Korpikoski ringing one off the cross-bar. Gardiner would score the games opening goal moments later. “I had some good plays, had some bad plays,” said Gardiner, who played just under 19 minutes. “Both Morgan [Rielly] and I werent very happy about the way we played, but we got the win and as a team we played pretty well.” Stats-Pack 19-6-3 – Leafs record when scoring first this season. 6 – Consecutive games with a point for Phil Kessel, who has four goals and 12 points in that span. 82 – Games between goals for Carl Gunnarsson, who scored his first of the year on Monday. 6 – Power-play goals for the Leafs in the past five games. 11 – Games between goals for Nazem Kadri, who scored for the first time since Dec. 23 against the Coyotes. 3 – Consecutive games with a point for Kadri, who has five points in that span. 10-7-1 – Record versus the Western Conference this season. Special Teams Capsule PP: 2-6Season: 22.8% (4th) PK: 3-4Season: 77.3% (28th) Quote of the Night “We found out winnings fun.” -Jake Gardiner, on the difference in atmosphere around the team in recent days. Up Next The Leafs head to Colorado for a Tuesday date with the Avalanche. Nolan Cromwell Jersey .A. Happ capped a challenging season with one of his best efforts of the year. Marshall Faulk Jersey . According to MMAFighting.com, MacDonald needs an x-ray on his right ankle and doctors clearance to fight or he will be subject to a mandatory medical suspension that will end on August 22, 2014. http://www.officiallaramspro.com/Aaron-donald-rams-jersey/. The Redskins announced Monday that the quarterback who led the team to the Super Bowl championship in the 1987 season will serve as a personnel executive. Gerald Everett Jersey . With their coach gone, they finally played offence the way he would have wanted. Amare Stoudemire made all seven shots in the first half, Anthony passed and shot well, and the Knicks shook off the surprising departure of their coach to rout the Portland Trail Blazers 121-79 on Wednesday night, snapping a six-game losing streak. Eric Dickerson Jersey . -- Catriona Matthew remained atop the Airbus LPGA Classic leaderboard Friday, birdieing four of the last seven holes to take a one-stroke advantage over Charley Hull into the weekend.ATLANTA -- The Brewers saved their swings for the game and earned another break from batting practice. Mark Reynolds hit a first-inning grand slam, Kyle Lohse combined with Francisco Rodriguez on a five-hitter and Milwaukee ended a four-game losing streak by beating the Braves 6-1 Wednesday night. Carlos Gomez added a two-run homer in the fourth for Milwaukee, which skipped batting practice after being shut out 5-0 Tuesday night. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said hell try the same formula again. "No BP at all," Roenicke said of his plan for Thursdays pregame. "I think they would like not doing it again. That works." Lohse (6-1) was sharp while going eight innings to win his sixth straight decision. He gave up one run on four hits with no walks and eight strikeouts. Lohses only loss of the season came against the Braves on April 1. The Brewers jumped on Ervin Santana (4-2) in the first inning. Gomez singled, Scooter Gennett doubled and Jonathan Lucroy took a one-out walk before Reynolds third career grand slam -- a line drive over the left-field wall. "It was big. Weve been struggling the past couple of games," Reynolds said. "Give Lohse some breathing room." Reynolds snapped a 0-for-12 streak with his ninth homer, pulling a slider from Santana over the left-field wall. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez called the pitch "a cement-mixer slider." Reynolds said the homer "wasnt so much good for me as it was for the team." "Guys dont feel like they have to do so much with one swing," he said. The Braves scored their only run off Lohse in the first inning on back-to-back doubles by Freddie Freeman and Justin Upton, who had three hits. Lohse did not allow another baserunner to reach second base. Atlantas only other hits off Lohse were singles by Jason Heyward in the third and Upton in the seventh. "It seemed like he hit all the quadrants of the strike zone: in, up, down and away with all his pitches," Gonzalez said. "t;He mixed it well.ddddddddddddHe kept us off balance." Freeman said the Braves batters "were aggressive" but couldnt take advantage of opportunities. "He made a lot of mistakes, we just popped them all up, it seemed like," Freeman said. "We just didnt get it done tonight." Upton had a two-out single off Rodriguez in the ninth before Chris Johnsons third strikeout ended the game. The Brewers took advantage of Santanas two-out walk to Lohse in the fourth. Gomez followed with a high homer, his 10th, over the centre field wall. Gomez circled the bases without incident, avoiding a repeat of an ugly melee on Sept. 25, 2013. In that game, Gomez was slow to leave the batters box following a homer at Turner Field, and he exchanged words with Braves infielders as he circled the bases and then was blocked at home plate by former Atlanta catcher Brian McCann. That led to a brawl that emptied both dugouts. Santana allowed a season-high six runs on nine hits and four walks in seven innings. The Brewers two homers matched the total allowed by Santana in his first seven starts. The Braves have lost three of Santanas last four starts, and the last two have been ugly. The right-hander allowed five runs on 10 hits in five innings in a 5-2 loss at St. Louis on Friday. Santana, 3-1 with a 1.95 ERA in April, has seen his ERA climb to 3.42. He said poor location led to the first-inning struggles. NOTES: Roenicke said he doesnt think RHP Yovani Gallardo, who left Tuesday nights game after spraining his left ankle, will land on the DL. Roenicke said Gallardo must make dramatic improvement to avoid missing his next scheduled start on Sunday at Miami. "Its got to be a lot better tomorrow," Roenicke said. ... Braves C Evan Gattis missed his second straight game with viral symptoms, but was available off the bench. ... Lohse improved to 4-0 in six career starts at Turner Field. ... The four-game series ends Thursday night with Braves RHP Aaron Harang facing Brewers RHP Matt Garza. 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