Skipjacks goalie Byron Dafoe suspected it wouldn't be that easy. Last night, his suspicions were confirmed.
Dafoe made it look easy in his first four games back after missing 20 with a sprained ankle. He allowed only 10 goals and had a 3-0-1 record.
One streak ended and another continued. The Skipjacks were unbeaten in their previous five games, winning three. The Maple Leafs are 6-0-2 in their past eight.
Dafoe never has had much relish for playing St. John's. Last year, he was 0-2-0 against the Maple Leafs with a 5.41 goals-against average.
"We were erratic, from the goal on out," Skipjacks coach Barry Trotz said. "We'd score and come within a goal and then our next shift would give up one right away. We did that twice."
St. John's carried a 5-3 lead into the final period, but was never seriously threatened. Patrik Augusta made it 6-3 with his second goal of the game and Kevin McClelland scored the game's final goal after Mark Hunter brought Baltimore to 6-4.
"I thought we carried the tempo in the third period," Trotz said. "We were really coming at 6-4 and they were hanging on. Then we started to force things."
Maple Leafs goalie Felix Potvin held Baltimore in check, making 35 saves. He was playing his fourth game for St. John's after spending most of the season with the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs. Potvin had a 2.99 goals-against average in his 18 games with Toronto.
St. John's Eric Lacroix opened the scoring in the teams' first meeting of the season with a goal 7:34 into the game. Augusta made it 2-0, flicking the puck one-handed past an off-balance Dafoe, before Reggie Savage put Baltimore on the board with a power-play goal with 3:52 left in the first period.
It was Savage's team-high 27th goal and the fifth consecutive game in which he has scored at least once. Savage was the leader of the Skipjacks' skimpy offense against the Maple Leafs last season, with two goals and an assist. Baltimore finished 1-3-0 against the Maple Leafs.
Twenty-two seconds after Savage's goal, Rob Cimetta stretched St. John's edge to 3-1.
The Maple Leafs quickly made it 5-1 in the second period on goals by Joe Sacco and Yanic Perreault, who scored his team-leading 28th.
The Skipjacks rallied when Steve Konowalchuk scored his 15th goal and Mike Boback his 10th to trim the Maple Leafs' lead to 5-3. The Skipjacks had a five-on-three advantage when Boback scored.
Boback, No. 2 in the AHL in assists, became the next-to-last player in the league's top 20 in points to reach double figures in goals.
NOTES: Mike Parson, the Skipjacks' starting goalie while Dafoe was out with a sprained ankle, was reassigned by the parent Boston Bruins to the AHL Providence Bruins. Mark Bernard remains Baltimore's backup. . . . When the Skipjacks play the Binghamton Rangers, the AHL's winningest (29-5-5) team, next Friday (7:35 p.m.) and Saturday (1 p.m.), they'll be confronted by the goalie who was a starter in last season's NHL All-Star Game. The parent New York Rangers assigned Mike Richter to Binghamton for five games for conditioning after he missed time with an injury.
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