Your Monday Briefing: August 23, 2013
By Bill Lawrence, Correspondent
T.J. Ford had two goals in his final match.
The first was to be a better player and second was to win the Stanley Cup.
He accomplished both in a 5-0 shutout over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday night in a playoff game at the PPG Paints Arena. Ford scored all five goals as, for all intents and purposes, his team won on the strength of their offense.
Ford began his final season as a Maple Leafs player with three goals and two assists in seven games. Now that he has had a week to regroup, he has three goals and two assists in six games.
He also scored two quick goals against the Penguins before the game even started, including the first.
“I felt fine,” said Ford, who played with a slight sore left leg. “Today wasn’t about trying to get back to the level I was at the start of the year. I just wanted to be consistent. If I just took my average then I’d be in good shape.”
The Toronto Maple Leafs lost to the Penguins in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
Losing in a five-game series to the Pens was a disappointing way to end their second consecutive playoff appearance. But the Penguins have lost five straight and six of eight heading into a bye week. It was an opportunity for the Leafs to rebound from four straight playoff trips gone by before they started their third in franchise history against Pittsburgh on the road.
The Leafs were down by two goals early in the first period, but a Mark Scheifele three-goal outburst was the difference in the Leafs’ 5-0 victory.
The game marked just the second time the Leafs have outscored a team in a game, and the second consecutive game in which they scored four goals.
“We’re starting to get a little bit more flow (offensively),” said Leafs defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo