Published February 23, 2012
TORONTO – Patrick Marleau scored two goals and the San Jose Sharks beat Toronto 2-1 on Thursday night, sending the stumbling Maple Leafs to their seventh loss in eight games.
Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke put the team on alert when he told a Toronto radio station Wednesday that he was in the market for a goalie. Judging by the team's recent play of late, he might not stop there.
James Reimer started in goal against the Sharks and made 24 saves, but his record dropped to 11-9-4. Marleau was the only player to beat him with a pair of second-period goals that lifted the Sharks (32-20-7) to their first win in five games.
Jake Gardiner scored for the Maple Leafs (29-25-7), who are 1-6-1 since Feb. 7.
The teams took time to feel their way into the game, producing a tepid opening 20 minutes. But Marleau put the Sharks ahead 32 seconds into the second period by quickly firing Joe Thornton's pass over Reimer's shoulder.
That put Toronto back on its heels and allowed San Jose to gain momentum.
Marleau scored his 25th of the season — and second of the night — just 17 seconds after Maple Leafs defenseman Luke Schenn was penalized for interference. The forward stood at the top of the crease and tipped a Logan Couture shot past Reimer.
There was an uneasy feeling in the Air Canada Centre when the horn sounded after the second period with San Jose ahead 2-0. A smattering of boos could be heard in the otherwise silent arena.
It changed quickly following the intermission as the Leafs came out firing.
Gardiner narrowed the deficit to 2-1 at 3:53 by firing a shot through traffic that eluded goalie Antti Niemi. It was the fourth goal of the season for the rookie defenseman.
Toronto kept on pushing and had two good chances by Matthew Lombardi turned away. Niemi was out at the top of the crease to deny the second opportunity from the slot. That was as close as the Maple Leafs would get.
Burke will get one more opportunity to watch his team before Monday's NHL trade deadline, Saturday when the Maple Leafs play Washington. Toronto is clinging to eighth place in the Eastern Conference.
NOTES: Maple Leafs D Mike Komisarek was scratched for the ninth time in 11 games. ... Recently acquired San Jose forward Dominic Moore sat out because of an undisclosed lower body injury. ... Former Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr. is now director of pro scouting for the Sharks. ... Andrea Bargnani of the Toronto Raptors was in attendance.