Leafs find success in the shootout for once - The Hockey News on Sports Illustrated

Leafs find success in the shootout for once

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The Leafs won only their fifth shootout in 15 tries since last October, including their second in five attempts already this season, when winger Kyle Wellwood undressed Montreal goalie David Aebischer with a beautiful backhand to forehand deke in Toronto's seventh try of the shootout.

"I had an idea what I wanted to do," said Wellwood, now 1-for-2 on the season in shootout attempts. "You have a couple of moves that you practice and that's one I like. There had been a bunch of shots on (Aebischer) before me so I decided to try a deke."

Leafs backup goalie J.S. Aubin stopped Alexander Perezhogin to end it, his sixth consecutive save in the shootout after allowing a goal to Sergei Samsonov on his first attempt. After the Samsonov goal, he stopped Alexei Kovalev, Michael Ryder (with a huge glove save), Mark Streit, Saku Koivu, Chris Higgins and then Perezhogin.

"Today was fun but tomorrow might a different story," Aubin said with a laugh. "But seriously, I tried to challenge their shooters. I didn't want to back up to early in my crease. That's something I've been working on in practice."

Aubin is now 1-1 this year in the shootout after losing in New Jersey earlier this month in his only other start on the season.

"That team (Montreal) is built for the shootout I think," said Leafs head coach Paul Maurice. "He made some huge stops."

Leafs defenceman Tomas Kaberle opened the shootout with a goal in his first-ever attempt in the NHL, capping off a dream-like evening after his first career hat trick. He faked out Aebischer with a superb deke to his forehand.

Kaberle certainly didn't expect to be involved in the shootout.

"I was kind of surprised," said Kaberle. "I started laughing and so did he (Maurice)."

Kaberle had to wait eight years before evening an old score with Switzerland's Aebischer.

"I remember at the world juniors one year (1998) he stopped me in the bronze medal shootout," said the Czech defenceman. "So I guess I got some revenge."

And he may not be done in shootouts, although it wasn't clear if Maurice was joking.

"Kaberle's going first next time, too," laughed Maurice. "He's a lock. So it's Kaberle, (Mats) Sundin and everyone else gets to audition."

The Leafs now hope to put their shootout struggles behind them for good.

"When I played for the Baby Leafs we were the best shootout team in the AHL," said Wellwood. "Sometimes you get some confidence after winning a couple."

Sundin was stopped by Aebischer to drop to two for five in the shootout this season and three for 12 since last season. Darcy Tucker was also stopped, falling to one for five this season and two for nine all-time.