As I watched the Penguins celebrate Malkin's equalizer last night, my mind drifted back to my highschool year book circa 1981. The yearbook committee dubbed me the school's most diehard Leaf Fan. I have never died harder than last night. It was agonizing to watch almost 50 mins. of exemplary hockey go down in the books as a S-O loss for the Leafs.
Although the call disallowing Bozak's goal barely into the first was an outrage, the Leafs battled to take a 4-1 lead. Grabo found the back of the net twice in the second at 6:51 and at 9:55 putting the Leafs up 2-0. The Penguins Cooke registers with less than 4 minutes left in the second.
The Leafs took the momentum of a 2-1 lead into the third period coming out strong. Bozak scores again, this time putting a point on the board at 6:18. Less than 20 seconds later MacArthur tallies and your score is 4-1 in favour of the Leafs, who at this point have strutted their stuff by out playing and outskating the Pittsburg Penguins. With 13 minutes left in the game Toronto has a comfortable lead, or so one would think.
As the period presses on the Leafs begin to get bogged down in their own end as the Pens rally to tie the game. Goals by Sullivan at 8:33 and Vitale at 15:01 put the Penguins back in it. The still leading leafs showed a lacklustre effort and held off Fleury making a run for the Pittsburg bench in favour of an extra attacker. Alas, not for long enough. The Penguins manage to get that attacker and Malkin scores with 6.6 seconds left in the game for the tie. Goaltender Interference? This was another questionable call on the night as Gustavsson appears to be charged. But.....there would be no question if not for the Leafs inability to clear the puck out of their own end as the seconds wound down.
An outstanding display of goaltending at both ends of the ice resulted in 5 mins of scoreless overtime forcing a shoot-out. Evgeni Malkin was at it again and got one past Gustavsson to bring the Leafs down, 5-4 being the final score.
The skill level and heart the Leafs displayed to dominate the first 50 mins. of this game was not enough to bank the 2 points desperately needed going into the stretch. Which begs the question _ What is ailing the Toronto Maple Leafs?_ Reguardless......
They bring 1 point home to Air Canada Centre where they will face off again tonight against the Penguins for the second of a home and home series. Seeing the Leafs play in Pittsburg sporting their home blues leads me to wonder if they will have their road whites on tonight. Blue or White, they have home ice advantage and if last night was any indication, tonight's match-up will be a nail biter. So, Leaf Fans stay tuned.