MONTREAL – Jonas Gustavsson and the Toronto Maple Leafs took no chances when they learned the netminder’s heart was racing Tuesday.
Gustavsson was taken to hospital as a precautionary measure after the first period with a heart issue, but Joey MacDonald stepped in and made 18 saves to complete the Maple Leafs’ first shutout of the season in a 3-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens.
Toronto head coach Ron Wilson said that during a first period power play, Gustavsson had a similar sensation to the one he felt in training camp, when he needed a medical procedure to address an accelerated heart rate.
Gustavsson stopped all four shots he faced during the man advantage, including a sprawling glove save on Glen Metropolit to keep the game scoreless. He played the final 13 minutes of the period to finish with eight stops.
“Not to make light of it, but my heart was racing too when they got that power play with all the chances,” said Wilson said. “He had that same sensation he had in training camp when his heart started to race. It came down on its own in the room, but we wanted to be cautious. Obviously, any situation with your heart could turn out to be serious.”
Doctors performed a minor medical procedure known as an ablation to address Gustavsson’s heart issue in training camp, but Wilson said the major difference this time is that his heart rate came down on its own. In training camp the heart rate didn’t come down until he received medication at the hospital.
Even though Gustavsson appeared to be fine, Wilson didn’t hesitate to tell MacDonald to get ready.
“I’m not going to be responsible for someone keeling over during a game,” said Wilson. “A game is not that important.”
Wilson said Gustavsson was to remain in hospital overnight would return to Toronto on Wednesday, where he will be examined by the cardiologist who treated him during training camp.
Colton Orr, Jeff Finger and Matt Stajan scored for the Maple Leafs (7-12-7), who have earned 10 of a possible 14 points over their last seven games (4-1-2).
Phil Kessel added two assists for Toronto, giving him four points in his last three games.
“Tonight was the closest we’ve come to playing a complete game,” said Toronto defenceman Mike Komisarek, a former Hab who was booed all night.
“It’s a huge step forward for us and we’ve just got to keep building. Going into these games, we’re looking at eighth place and trying to close that gap.”
Carey Price made 28 saves in his ninth straight start in goal for the Canadiens (12-13-2), who generated very little offensively in spite of the return from injury of centre Scott Gomez and winger Matt D’Agostini.
“It was a difficult night,” Montreal head coach Jacques Martin said. “Sometimes you have a few guys who aren’t playing to their potential. But tonight, we had trouble finding one guy who was playing to his potential.”
On the few occasions Montreal did manage to generate some pressure, MacDonald was there to foil them to earn his first win of the season.
“It was great, to play in this building is awesome,” said MacDonald. “I didn’t know until about three minutes before I had to go on the ice, so you don’t really think about it and that takes the pressure off.”
The Canadiens are winless in three games (0-2-1) and have scored only four goals over that span.
When asked whether it was his team’s worst game at home this season, Martin said, “Bang on. Without a doubt. Definitely.”
The Leafs jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first on goals from two very unlikely sources.
Orr opened the scoring at 9:24 with his first since Dec 10, 2008. Tomas Kaberle entered the Habs zone and moved toward the back of the net before throwing a slow dribbler in front which found a streaking Orr.
Finger, playing his first game after missing four with a lower body injury, made it 2-0 at 12:51 when his harmless looking shot from the side boards fooled Price.
Stajan extended the Leafs lead to 3-0 at 6:53 of the third when he got behind Habs defenceman Jaroslav Spacek and went in alone on Price, beating him glove side.
Notes: It was champions night at the Bell Centre, as the Grey Cup-winning Montreal Alouettes received an extended standing ovation prior to the game. Later, IBF super middleweight boxing champ Lucian Bute, who defended his belt Saturday night, addressed the crowd during a TV timeout. … The Canadiens lost D Jay Leach on waivers to the San Jose Sharks earlier Tuesday. … D Garnet Exelby and C Rickard Wallin were scratched for Toronto, while D Carl Gunnarson did not play after getting injured Monday night in a 3-0 loss to Buffalo. … Enforcer Georges Laraque served the fourth of a five-game suspension for the Habs. … With an assist on Finger’s goal, Leafs D Francois Beauchemin earned the 100th point of his career. … Canadiens C Kyle Chipchura played four shifts in the first period and was a minus-2. He didn’t play after Toronto’s second goal.