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Tyler Bozak #42 and Kris Versteeg #32 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrate Kris Versteeg goal against the Nashville Predators during game action at the Air Canada Centre November 16, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Abelimages/2010 Getty Images)
Tyler Bozak #42 and Kris Versteeg #32 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrate Kris Versteeg goal against the Nashville Predators during game action at the Air Canada Centre November 16, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Abelimages/2010 Getty Images)

Leafs capitalize on penalty parade Add to ...

Leafs coach Ron Wilson joked after tonight's 5-4 win over the Predators that he wanted to leave the building when his team went down 3-0 only 11:43 into the first period, 10 seconds after he'd called a timeout to ream out his players for being down 2-0.

Most of those in attendance at the Air Canada Centre, at that point, likely wouldn't have objected.

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"I tried to leave the building but contrary to fire code I think they chained the doors," Wilson quipped. "I couldn't leave."

His team, however, turned things around from that point on, with Luke Schenn getting Toronto on the board with a nice play from the blueline and then the Leafs power play coming alive (perhaps for the first time this season) with four goals in a row.

"I've never been in a game where a team I've coached has had three 5-on-3s," Wilson said. "We scored on a couple of them. The power play clicked and we found a way to get a lead."

Predators coach Barry Trotz said after the game he blamed his players rather than the officials, who whistled Nashville for six straight minors in the second period.

"We gave them momentum by taking penalty after penalty," Trotz said. "When are we going to learn? You have a team down and out, we had them on the floor gasping for air and we let them off the mat.

"We stopped skating, stopped working and that's where you take penalties. We deserved exactly what we got."

The win was Toronto's first in three weeks, ending an eight-game losing skid in which they had scored only 12 goals. It certainly wasn't pretty, however, and if Nashville hadn't had as many trips to the penalty box, things could have been a whole lot uglier for the Leafs.

"Some of our top guys aren't playing that well," Trotz said. "As a group, our defence, that was the worst I've seen them play all year."

"There's no excuses," Preds captain Shea Weber said. "We took stupid penalties."

Schenn, meanwhile, said Wilson didn't sugarcoat things when he called a timeout only 11 minutes into the game.

"He pretty much said to wake up," Schenn said. "I mean what do you say? It's embarrassing to come out and be down 3-0. Especially in your building. Pretty much [he said]wake up and it's going to be a long night if you don't get it going."

Versteeg's slump over

Kris Versteeg looked - and sounded - incredibly relieved tonight in the dressing room after scoring two big goals on the power play.

After a very slow start to the season, he now has seven points in his past seven games, and Wilson has begun to lean on him more heavily in key situations. Versteeg played 22:53 tonight, the most of any Leafs forward, and seems to have begun to find his game after struggling under that heavy workload earlier this season.

"It was a sigh of relief when I got the first one, I'll tell you that," Versteeg said. "In the first 15 games [in Toronto] I don't think I had as many breakaways and chances in Chicago in two years. Sometimes they go in, sometimes they don't.

"The biggest thing about this is the win. That's the only thing that matters. You lose that many points in that many games, the only thing that matters to me is winning."

Giguere leaves with injury

Netminder Jean-Sebastien Giguere left the game midway through the third period with a groin strain, but neither he nor the coach seemed to think it was that serious. Backup Jonas Gustavsson stopped all six shots he faced in relief.

"He came to the bench and said his groin was tight and he wasn't comfortable," Wilson said. "He wasn't sure he should try and finish the game with his past with it. So Jonas went in and made two or three great saves. That was huge."

"At that point, I think it would have been selfish of me to stay in and not be 100 per cent," Giguere said. "You've got to make a decision. I've been around long enough to know that if something happens to me, goal is a big position, you can't play around with that. You've got Jonas on the bench that's ready to go and he's been working hard so I knew he was going to be ready to step in."

 

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