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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. A.J. Klein Jersey . How foolishly wrong I was. Forget the now inherent corruption and back handed favours that plague the beautiful game. Goal Line Technology? Youre having a laugh. As for them penalty cheating bandits, footballs lawmakers upend them by awarding the penalty to the opponent each time a player attempts to con the referee into awarding ghost penalties. Alvin Kamara Jersey . - The width of Alec Martinezs shin guard was the difference between the Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks in their playoff series opener. http://www.cheapsaintsjerseysonline.com/?tag=boston-scott-jersey-online .B. -- Canadas Rachel Homan opened the Ford Womens World Curling Championship with a 7-5 win over Russia on Saturday. Dan Arnold Jersey . -- Matt Rupert scored once in regulation and again in the shootout as the London Knights extended their win streak to nine games by defeating the Owen Sound Attack 4-3 on Friday in Ontario Hockey League action. Ryan Ramczyk Jersey . The Packers, Lions and Bears were a combined 35-15 and as long as Jay Cutler can say healthy, all three could make the playoffs in 2012.HOUSTON -- The Houston Rockets were on the verge of their third straight home loss after blowing a double-digit, second-half lead for the second consecutive game. This time, guard James Harden said, the Rockets found the will to win. Jeremy Lin scored 31 points off the bench, Dwight Howard had 18 points and 24 rebounds, and the Rockets beat the Toronto Raptors 110-104 in double-overtime to snap a two-game losing streak. "(This game) was something," Houston coach Kevin McHale said. "We still are a little bit in the mud, but the guys came out defensively and did a really good job. We were grinding. We just found a way to win. Thats just kind of what we had to do." Lin shot 10 of 17 from the field and hit 8 of 9 from the free throw line. Harden finished with 26 points and 10 assists. Howard was just 4 of 12 at the foul line. Chandler Parsons had 18 points, five rebounds and five assists for the Rockets. Lin was the first player to score 30-plus points off the bench for Houston since Chase Budinger had 30 points against Cleveland on Feb. 23, 2011. "Midway through the third I was feeling pretty good," Lin said. "I got in my rhythm. I got a few shots to go down. Everything just kind of slowed down." Rudy Gay led the Raptors with 29 points and 10 rebounds but shot 11 of 37 from the field. DeMar DeRozan added 22 points, but he struggled as well, finishing 6 of 25. Jonas Valanciunas chipped in 10 points and 13 rebounds, Amir Johnson had 10 points and 10 boards, and Kyle Lowry netted 16 for Toronto, who shot 33 per cent from the field. "I love the way we fought," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "Anybody that didnt appreciate that, we had 30 more attempts. How many times have you seen that? We just have to make shots. We only shot 25 per cent in the first half, and we got back in the game with our defence." After Harden missed a jumper, Howard grabbed a rebound and gave it to Terrence Jones for a layup to give the Rockets a 106-104 lead with 1:13 to go in the second overtime. Gay missed a jumper, and Johnson missed the tip on the other end before Lin hit a floater with 33 seconds left to give the Rockets a four-point lead. Gay missed another jumper, and after review, Houston was awarded the ball with 26 seconds lleft.dddddddddddd. Patrick Beverley made one of two free throws with 20 seconds left, and Gay missed a 3-pointer with 15 seconds remaining. Harden made one of two free throws to push the lead to six and ice the win. "We lost two at home," Harden said. "We cant lose three in a row at home. We are too much of a good team to lose three games. We did whatever it took to pull it out tonight." Harden scored seven of the Rockets first nine points in the second overtime, but Gay tied it at 104 with a 3-point play with 1:50 to go. Gay tied the score at 95 in the first overtime, hitting a tough 3-pointer from the top of the top of the arc with 0.9 seconds remaining, and Lin missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the game to a second extra period. "We fought with them obviously through two overtimes, and shots that we usually hit werent falling," Gay said. "You could say fatigue or a lot of different things, but they are a great team, and they played well. I just wish I wouldve hit the easy ones and maybe things wouldve worked out differently." Trailing 80-66 after Lins layup with 8:32 remaining in the fourth, Toronto knotted the score at 84 six minutes later on Terrence Rosss follow shot, capping an 18-4 run. Harden made one of two free throws to tie it at 87 with 34 seconds remaining before Gay missed a jumper with 12 seconds left, but the referees called a 24-second violation, saying the ball never hit the rim. After review, the ball hit the rim, and the officials jumped it up at midcourt, with the Rockets winning it, but Hardens jumper at the buzzer was short, sending the game to overtime. "It was a long, intense game," Harden said. "I think in the first half we did a great job defending. They only had 33 points at the half, but in the second half, we let up. Gave them confidence early in the second half when they started making shots. We have to battle it out and fight it out." NOTES: Toronto forward Steve Novak missed Mondays game with back spasms. . Houston guard/forward Francisco Garcia did not play in Mondays game as well with flu-like symptoms. . Harden was fined $5,000 Monday for violating the NBAs anti-flopping rules for a second time. Harden was cited for a fourth-quarter flop against the Los Angeles Clippers Saturday. 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