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article imageMaple Leafs get back in win column after increasing forecheck

By Marcus Hondro     Dec 19, 2013 in Sports
Toronto - The Toronto Maple Leafs got back into the win column after two demoralizing losses by using the shootout for a 2-1 home win over the Phoenix Coyotes Thursday. The Leafs had lost five of six and almost let this one slip away.
After their particularly lackluster 3-1 loss in Toronto against the Florida Panthers Tuesday, the club went into recovery mode. There were coaches and player meetings and James Reimer even let his teammates know they needed to up their work effort.
Coach Randy Carlyle, meanwhile, huddled throughout Wednesday with his coaching staff and met with his team Thursday morning. "We formulated some form of a plan that we presented to our players this morning,'' Carlyle told media Thursday.
''We think there are some things that we can hang our hat on that if we continue to get this group to commit to playing a more aggressive forecheck, a more aggressive defensive zone that the tide will turn in our favor.''
Troy Brodie: first goal as a Leaf
The increased attention to the forecheck did the trick against Phoenix as it lead to the only goal they managed. In the first, the Leafs Troy Brodie and the increasingly valuable Peter Holland were in on the forecheck and their persistence lead to Cody Franson getting the puck at the point. He shot it on net and Brodie fired the rebound past Mike Smith for his first as a Leaf.
The goal came at 15:52 of the period and Toronto looked as if they might hold that lead for the win. But Martin Hanzal scored on Reimer on a wraparound to tie it at 15:08 of the third, ending a goalless streak for Phoenix of 108:54. Overtime didn't produce a goal, or a lot of chances, and the Leafs pulled it out of the fire in the shootout.
James van Riemsdyk and Mikkel Boedker traded goals to start the shooting contest and on the Leafs' third attempt, with it still one each in the shootout, Joffrey Lupul scored before Reimer stoned Antoine Vermette to give his team the two points.
Phoenix outshot Toronto, 35-27. The Leafs sit in 8th in the East with 39 points in 37 games.
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