Giguere gets big win over former team as Toronto beats the Ducks 5-2

TORONTO – Sleep will come a little easier for the Toronto Maple Leafs again.

Mikhail Grabovski scored twice and Clarke MacArthur added a goal and two assists Thursday night as the Maple Leafs rallied for a 5-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks.

Not only did that give goaltender J.S. Giguere a big win against his former team, it also quickly washed away the ugly memories of a 7-0 loss to the New York Rangers just 24 hours earlier.

“Tonight we played with pride,” said MacArthur. “It’s hard to sleep after a game like that (the loss in New York).

“We all have better in here. It’s not fair to the goalies, it’s not fair to anybody to come out and leave guys hung out to dry like we did.”

The response was exactly what the team needed.

The Leafs looked a bit tentative in the early going—everyone seemed afraid to make a mistake after the massacre at Madison Square Garden—but they found their legs once MacArthur tied the score 1-1 a little after the midway point of the first period. From there, they delivered the kind of solid effort that has been missing on too many nights this season.

“We’ve been up and down quite a bit this year, which has been frustrating,” said forward Colby Armstrong.

Carl Gunnarsson and Tyler Bozak also scored for the Maple Leafs (19-22-5), who ended a three-game winless slide.

Dan Sexton and Brandon McMillan replied for Anaheim (26-20-4).

The Ducks held a lengthy closed-door meeting following the loss. They are in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race and can’t afford many more efforts like this one down the stretch.

“(The Leafs) got embarrassed last night and they came out pretty good,” said veteran Ducks forward Teemu Selanne. “They played better than us.”

Added Ducks coach Randy Carlyle: “We played about 12 minutes of hockey tonight. You can’t play 12 minutes of hockey and expect to win in the NHL.”

Giguere spent a decade with the Ducks organization before being dealt to Toronto almost a year ago. It was just his second career start against Anaheim and the veteran admitted that he experienced some nerves earlier in the day.

“I wanted to just have a strong game,” said Giguere, who finished with 26 saves. “Not because I’m bitter or anything like that. You want to play well against guys you know. It’s a fun challenge.

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“Seeing them this morning, you can have a little laugh, but when the game comes they want to score and I want to make a save. Thankfully, I made more saves tonight.”

As has often been the case this season, MacArthur was a real sparkplug for the Leafs. With the team trailing 1-0 in the first, he made a nice pass to Phil Kessel on a 2-on-1 before shovelling home the rebound to tie the game.

It was MacArthur’s 15th goal of the season—leaving him just two shy of his career high. He leads the team with 40 points.

“Clarke MacArthur was great again tonight,” said Leafs coach Ron Wilson. “That whole line (with Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin) has been driving us when we’re winning.”

The Leafs had a quiet charter flight back from New York after Wednesday’s loss and didn’t spend much time breaking it down Thursday morning because “there wasn’t much to look at from that one,” according to Armstrong.

The players were happy they were presented with an opportunity to quickly wipe the slate clean.

“Oh yeah, that was the best thing,” said Bozak. “We didn’t have much time to think about what happened last night. If we had a few days off in between it would have been a lot tougher.”

There was no lack of motivation.

Normally, they might have focused on getting a win for Giguere when facing an unfamiliar opponent at this point of the season. But the debacle in New York took precedence.

“More than anything it was about responding from last game—that’s an unacceptable effort,” said MacArthur. “I thought we came out hard here. We got down and we stuck with it and it was just a good victory for our team.”

Notes:Giguere’s only other start against Anaheim came Dec. 29, 1999. He backstopped Calgary to a 3-1 win … Ducks forward Saku Koivu plays his first game at the Bell Centre since leaving Montreal on Saturday night … Maple Leafs forward Mike Brown served the final game of a three-game suspension … Toronto tough guy Colton Orr smacked his face on the ice at the end of a first-period fight with George Parros and didn’t return to the game … Announced attendance was 19,399.