The Florida Panthers opened the scoring on a deflection off Mark Fraser's skate, but the Leafs answered as Dion Phaneuf picked the corner beautifully on a pass from Carl Gunnarsson (that kind of top-shelf shot from the Captain is why he's so often known for "high and wide"). Tyler Bozak, who had a strong game, laid a nice pass for Joffrey Lupul to tip home. 23 seconds later, Shawn Matthias tied the game by beating Jake Gardiner with that power forward below-the-circles move to get a lucky bounce off Mike Kostka's skate and tie the game again. Fear not, as Joffrey Lupul would fire home a game winner as he crept low in the slot and received a beautiful pass from well-known passing talent Phil Kessel.
Your Game In Six
Ben Scrivens, the Leafs' backup netminder, had 40 saves. While it's awful that the Leafs gave up 40 shots to the Florida Panthers, it's great that the Leafs' backup posted a 0.952 and really stole them a win last night. Again. Hell, both the goals that did get past him were chance deflections that could've easily gone another way. Empty-minded talking heads that fuel the "Leafs getting a goalie" chatter never seem to mention what would happen to Scrivens, who has half the games played for this season, and, alongside Reimer, is directly responsible for this team being in a playoff position.
We talked about how JVR had been quiet lately, but last night he looked bad. Outside the early chance that made the game in six, he had a couple good scoring opportunities and didn't do much with them. He was eventually demoted to the third line, and Lupul-Bozak-Kessel was reunited. Pretty crazy that we can replace one 55+ point-pace winger with another right now. Orr/McLaren played under 4:35 each, but McLaren still manged to put the Leafs on the PK. Truculence: You look a lot like playing a man down.
Mike Kostka, besides one nice tip on goal, took forever with the puck whenever it was on his stick last night. We have so many defensemen on this team that would look quite good next to a defensively reliable defender, but no one to carry them (mandatory "stop and take a moment to think about the glory days of Tomas Kaberle" moment). I do want to point out, though, that Kostka wasn't really at fault for the Matthias goal, as he was doing a good job of clearing the crease and tying his man up - that goal was on Gardiner, who doesn't take the stick, doesn't take the body, and blows a tire in the corner.
Oh, and back-to-back recaps where we get to talk about great defensive play by Phil Kessel. The multi-dimensional winger had two assists on the evening, and, well, watch this video - then, if you want to talk about Phil Kessel not being a "complete" player, you probably shouldn't be doing it in public:
The Leafs play Carolina Thursday night, and are getting awfully close to a playoff spot.
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