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New York Islanders John Tavares celebrates his overtime winning goal with against the Toronto Maple Leafs during their NHL hockey game in Toronto, October 18, 2010.


It took two near-goals - and three controversial calls by the officials - but the 2010-11 Toronto Maple Leafs are undefeated no more.

And it somehow seems only fitting that their first loss came at the hands of the plucky New York Islanders, one of the few teams with more modest expectations in the league this season.

Even with a few key injuries and icing a relatively no-name cast, coach Scott Gordon's Isles have come to play this season, bringing their record to 3-1-2 after a wild 2-1 overtime win at the Air Canada Centre on Monday night that had at least a couple assists from the hockey gods.

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Down 1-0 after Isles winger Matt Moulson -- one of the more unlikely 30-goal men in NHL history -- struck early in the second period, Toronto had a goal called back late in the second period when an official ruled Kris Versteeg batted the puck down with a high stick before putting it in the net.

Then, midway through the third, a shot by Leafs winger Colby Armstrong trickled along the goal line and was covered in the crease by John Tavares's glove at the side of the net. After a lengthy review and with Leafs coach Ron Wilson livid at the Toronto bench, it was ruled the puck didn't cross the line.

With time winding down in regulation, Phil Kessel's fifth goal of the season tied the game on the power play and got Toronto a single point, but a goaltender interference call to Leafs defenceman Brett Lebda in overtime setup Tavares's winner on the man advantage.

On offence

Versteeg was far more involved in the play Monday night than he had been in previous games -- including an overtime breakaway -- but after having what would have been his second goal as a Leaf called back, he has been held pointless in four out of five games this season.

"I definitely have more to show," he said. "I know what I can do, I'm not worried about it. I've been around the puck, I've been getting good chances -- sometimes it goes in, sometimes it doesn't."

Versteeg added that it's been an adjustment getting 21 minutes ice time a game, significantly more than last season with the Chicago Blackhawks.

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"I think I'm still kind of learning that now, what I can do with 20 minutes of ice and what I can't do," he said.

In goal

Leafs netminder Jean-Sebastien Giguere started for the fourth time in five games but was relatively untested on the night, facing only 12 shots after the first period and few good chances. He stopped the ones he had to in regulation and appeared to have little chance on either of the goals.

Dwayne Roloson, 41, was terrific in his second straight start for the Islanders, an assignment given in part due to his strong showing in Toronto last season. Last November, he was the first star in a 58-save performance against the Leafs in a 4-3 overtime win -- a game New York coach Scott Gordon said he remembers mainly for how he couldn't wait for it to end.

Three stars

1. John Tavares, Islanders 2. Phil Kessel, Maple Leafs 3. Dwayne Roloson, Islanders

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Roster watch

Islanders centre Josh Bailey left the game with a hip flexor in the second period, adding to an injury ward that already included three key players in Mark Streit (shoulder), Kyle Okposo (shoulder) and Trent Hunter (foot).

Those absences continued a trend where Toronto has faced opponents missing key contributors in almost every game this season, with only the Ottawa Senators being truly healthy against the Leafs to date.

Toronto, meanwhile, is now in perfect health. Lebda made his Leafs debut on the third pairing Monday in place of Carl Gunnarsson, returning from a shoulder injury that had kept him out of much of training camp and the first four games.

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About the Author
Hockey Reporter

James joined The Globe as an editor and reporter in the sports department in 2005 and now covers the NHL and the Toronto Maple Leafs. More

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