DENVER – Fear consumed the Maple Leafs bench as they stood nervously by with Daniel Winnik lying motionless on the Pepsi Center ice. One of the most scary things that Ive been a part of and watched live, said Dion Phaneuf afterward. Though requiring a fine performance in goal and one unlikely hero, Toronto managed to rally in their fallen teammates absence. They scored a single point during a wild night in Denver, one that saw the Avalanche eventually emerge behind their young guns in a shootout. It was only 45 seconds into the action when Winnik was stood up at the Colorado blue-line by Jan Hejda. He fell backwards uncontrollably from the thunderous collision, his head and neck crunching violently against the ice. Laying there motionless and seemingly knocked out for an entirely uncomfortable stretch, Winnik was eventually carted off the ice on a stretcher, his eyes open and fingers moving. The bad part about it was he was out of it, said head coach, Randy Carlyle of Winnik, who played two seasons in Colorado. After reviewing it, yeah he did twist his neck, but the weight of his body seemed to roll on his shoulder more and into his back. He was lucky in that situation. Amazingly (and almost unbelievably so) Winnik is apparently okay. Hes 100 per cent fine, said Carlyle. He says theres nothing wrong with him. That may be hard to believe, but encouragingly given how devastating the injury appeared, Winnik was even up and walking around the dressing room during the first intermission. He offered his team a rallying cry in the process. Finish the game hard, he said. That was a relief because we were pretty bothered as a team when you have a teammate like that get hurt, Phaneuf said. That was a boost for us when we came in and saw him after the first. They rallied around his presence. Even on the scoreboard after that nervous opening period, the Leafs traded goals with the Avalanche in the middle frame, tying it up one more time in the final moments of regulation on an unlikely marker from the previously little-used, Richard Panik. They needed more than a few heroics from Jonathan Bernier to even get to that point, the 26-year-old making his first start in nearly a week. Carlyle called it a reckless game, one that saw chances galore from a pair of shaky defensive squads. Im sure it was exciting for the fans, but its never exciting for coaches, he said. Given the circumstance – Jake Gardiner was also lost to injury early leaving the visitors with 16 skaters – the Leafs were happy to snatch a point, though its clear they have much to improve upon after dropping both games of a brief stint on the road. We definitely deserved that point, Bernier said, and probably more. Five Points 1. Statement in Goal Bernier wasnt too thrilled not to get the start Tuesday in Phoenix – that was the original plan – and he responded with another fine effort. If not for him the Leafs likely get nothing in Denver. There were the back-to-back stops on Matt Duchene during a wave of Avs domination in the first. There was the glove snatch of Jamie McGinns point-blank attempt in the middle frame. There was the two-pad stack on Tanguay all alone in front early in the third. I think Im seeing the puck well, he said. Im fighting to see it as well. Obviously you want to make at least one save in the shootout, you had a chance to get more [points], but thats the way it goes sometimes. Bernier owns a .925 save percentage in his last five starts. 2. First Periods Much like a year ago, first periods have been a dud for the Leafs this fall. Outscoring opponents in both the second and third, Toronto has managed eight first period goals to 14 for the opposition. The trend continued Thursday night. Colorado struck on the very shift of the game on a goal from Nick Holden – ending the period with 19 shots. Carlyle has taken measures to fix the wobbly starts, intent on easing the tension before puck-drop. Those measures even include the odd hula-hoop contest, yes, hula-hoop. Ive found that it always works, Carlyle said of playing games and contests before puck-drop. It lightens your group up and it eases the pressure that comes with it. Despite another troubled start that saw Colorado outshooting them 12-4 at one point, the Leafs did rebound in the back half of the first, evening the score on the seventh this season for Phil Kessel. (Kessel missed the first six minutes of the third with an undisclosed ailment, but managed to return for the remainder of the game.) Toronto was one of the worst starters in the league last season, outscored 76-56 in first periods – those 76 goals against the fifth-most of any team. 3. Scoring First Inextricably linked to those first periods has been the matter of scoring first. Like most teams, the Leafs arent faring well at all when they fail to score the first goal. And they gave up the first one for the eighth time in 13 games against the Avalanche. I guess you could say that everybody would love to score the first goal, Carlyle said before the game. If you look at the statistics and the league historically…the team that scores the first goal I think their winning percentage is over 70 per cent. I guess everybody would want to score the first goal. The Leafs are now 1-5-2 when theyre forced to come from behind, 5-0-0 when they score first. 4. Young D Jake Gardiner was sporting a mean limp in the Toronto dressing room after the shootout loss. Gardiner was stung on the left knee by a Jarome Iginla shot early in the first, wobbling around for the remainder of what was a troubled 50-second shift. He tested the knee during a TV timeout, but clearly felt some discomfort. X-rays revealed no break, but a deep bone bruise. Hit him in a spot where no equipment was, Carlyle said. Morgan Rielly, meanwhile, sat as a healthy scratch for the first time all season – replaced by Stuart Percy. He and Carlyle had a brief exchange at the morning skate. We felt that Morgan needed to improve in some areas of his game, Carlyle said. We think theres more for Morgan to give. Morgans got to use his skating ability to play the game to a higher level. 5. Suspended Carter Ashtons NHL career was dealt a harsh blow Thursday. The 23-year-old, still searching for his first goal in the league, was suspended 20 games, without pay, for violating the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program. Ashton claims the detection came from an inhaler (not his own) he used during a pair of asthma attacks before the start of the regular season. Unfortunately, I incorrectly assumed that there were no problems associated with the use of this inhaler and I used it without checking to see whether its contents were permissible under the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program, Ashton said in a statement, recognizing Clenbuterol as the offending substance. However, at no time was I seeking to gain an athletic advantage or to knowingly violate the terms of the program. Ashton will forfeit $169,185 as a result of the suspension. Already on the fringes of the Leafs roster and just starting to play recently – he was a healthy scratch in the first nine games – this was not what Ashton needed, a mistake that could trouble his chances of getting back in the lineup. A lot can change in the more than six weeks hell miss and given his limited track record he is by no means guaranteed a spot when he becomes eligible to return on Dec. 20 when the Leafs host the Flyers. Stats-Pack 5 games – Point streak for Phil Kessel, who has three goals and 10 points in that span. 1-5-2 – Leafs record when failing to score first this season. 14-8 – Mark by which Toronto has been outscored in first periods this season. 2 – Points for Richard Panik on Thursday, his first multi-point effort as a Leaf. 31:07 – Ice-time for Dion Phaneuf against the Avalanche, his highest of the season. Special Teams Capsule PP: 1-2 Season: 20.4% PK: 3-3 Season: 83.7% Quote of the Night One of the most scary things that Ive been a part of and watched live. -Dion Phaneuf, on the Daniel Winnik incident. Up Next The Leafs return home to host the Rangers on Saturday. Derrick Morgan Jersey. The Sochi organizing committee said in Fridays statement that the torch relay reached the North Pole on Oct. 19. Russian Polar explorer Artur Chilingarov, who led the mission, lit a special bowl at the North Pole sign. Warren Moon Jersey.5 million. 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