The good news is that the Leafs got a point out of last night's 3-2 OT loss to the Sabres, and still sit 6 points above 9th place. The bad news is that the Leafs lost to the Sabres and didn't look great doing it. Oh, and the team is in the last playoff spot heading into December Death. Over the coming month (including tonight's game against the Habs), the Leafs will face 10 hockey clubs that are currently .500 or better, and only 4 who are "Bettman .500" or worse. Things could get ugly.
Things started out well for the Leafs last night, as Phil Kessel flew in off the rush and absolutely ripped one by Ryan Miller just over two minutes into the first period. In fact, the Leafs looked clearly better than the Sabres through the first period, out-shooting them 9-7. It was about what you'd hope for.
Unfortunately, the second period didn't go so well, as the Sabres found the back of the net twice, tying it at one and then at two a piece. Nikolai Kulemin scored for the Leafs, as he got a bit of a wild bounce right in the crease that gave Miller no time to react.
The third saw both teams get a couple good looks at the net, with James van Riemsdyk getting his legs cut out from under him on a breakaway, only to get no call. Randy Carlyle addressed it in his post-game interview:
Carlyle mentions 'not getting the bounces' and 'receiving the game' in the second period (which in Randy-speak means getting worked) which sounds like two contradictory statements, but hey, I'm not an NHL coach.
Paul Ranger took a penalty late in the game to put the Leafs down a man for the end of the third and beginning of overtime, and the Sabres scored on a screened shot just after he stepped out of the box.
A few other notes:
- The Raymond-Kadrl-Clarkson line continues to look good, even though they didn't score. Kadri came close to tucking one behind Miller, but hey, next game.
- Paul Ranger looked pretty good in the first period but got worse as the game wore on. It wasn't a great night for him.
- Jake Gardiner got into the lineup last night and looked great. It's really too bad Mark Fraser can't sit out more often with that knee of his.
- Cody Franson continues to struggle defensively, and I really didn't like his hit from behind in the second period.