Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Boxing Day 1991, Pens 12 - Leafs 1


Twenty-one years ago today, Leaf call-up Kevin Maguire opened the scoring in Pittsburgh. Maguire, known more for his toughness notched the first goal of the game with an assist to Todd Gill. It was all downhill from there for the Leafs and goalie Grant Fuhr. Pittsburgh scored the next TWELVE goals to win 12-1.

Fuhr was aerated for all 12 goals making only 20 saves on 32 shots in the worst game of his career. It was far from his fault alone. Daniel Marois and ex-Pen, Mike Bullard were minus six on the evening and Peter Zezel clocked a minus five. As for Pittsburgh, the usual suspects were doing most of the damage as Mario Lemieux had 2 goals and 7 points. Joe Mullen potted 4 goals for the second consecutive game and also had 2 helpers, Kevin Stevens tallied 2 goals and 6 points as well. Second-year Jaromir Jagr chipped in a pair of goals to the onslaught.

The debacle in Pttsburgh may have been the final straw, and the catalyst for a major trade for Toronto. After losses to Detroit and Quebec, on January 2, Toronto General Manager Cliff Fletcher pulled the trigger on the biggest trade in team history. Sitting with a record of 10-25-5, the boss proceeded to fleece the Calgary Flames andin the process turn around a franchise. Fletcher aquired Doug Gilmour, Jamie Macoun, Ric Nattress, Kent Manderville and Rick Walmsley for Gary Leeman, Alex Godynyuk, Jeff Reese, Michel Petit and Craig Berube.

Gilmour would score 49 points in 40 games after the trade while Toronto pulled out of the doldrums to finish the season at a 20-18-2 clip. The Leafs fell three points shy of the playoffs, but would be serious contenders for years after.

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