It wasn't the defining moment of the game.

But it sure was telling.

It told you that while certain elements may have changed about the Leafs, some very important things have not.

The moment came with about 11 minutes gone in the third period of Thursday's game against the New York Islanders. Leaf captain Dion Phaneuf wrapped his arms around Isles star centre John Tavares and rode him hard into the corner in the Leaf zone.

Nothing outrageous, but certainly a hard play, and one that seemed to leave Tavares winded.

Immediately, two Islanders made a beeline for Phaneuf, who must've known retribution might be coming, but chose to skate away from it. Four other Leafs seemed not to smell trouble at all, but nor did they defend against the two remaining New York players as the sixth Islander goal of the night was snapped by Matt Moulson past James Reimer, who had relieved Ben Scrivens in the Leaf net.

At the whistle, the Isles declined to celebrate and instead, led by Matt Carkner, went after Phaneuf. Only Mike Kostka chose to get involved in the resulting scrum, while three others — Mikhail Grabovski, James van Riemsdyk, Nik Kulemin — looked around as though they'd heard their names called by loved ones in the stands. The 7-4 Islanders triumph, of course, didn't turn on this play.

But it was certainly an echo of last season, another incident that gave the impression that Phaneuf isn't beloved by his mates, and certainly one that suggested this is a team that, even on the heels of an impressive win in Pittsburgh the night before, lacks the collective will to dig down and band together in difficult moments.