The Toronto Maple Leafs played the Vancouver Canucks last night, and managed to rack up five goals on two goalies. Jake Gardiner scored the opener, Skilled Fourth Liner Richard Panik scored the next, Peter Holland scored in the second, Joffrey Lupul followed shortly afterwards, and David Clarkson hit the empty netter. Here's your game in six:
The Leafs and the Canucks traded a lot of chances early, and Toronto came out ahead nicely. Part of that was because of what happened in the offensive zone, but Jonathan Bernier's 44 saves may have been the most impressive individual performance of the night. He was aggressive when he needed to be, made some great saves from shots in close, and dealt with the highest number of shots against since March. Vancouver didn't have trouble getting chances, they had trouble getting goals, and that's largely because of Bernier.
Nazem Kadri got a lot of offensive zone starts and looked threatening throughout the game as a result, but I think his best highlight was when he stuck to his man in the defensive zone and managed to deny a shot attempt on what would've been an open net. Hughson, of course, identified him as Bozak on this big play.
Starting Stephane Robidas and Morgan Rielly in the defensive zone is scary. Rielly was frequently noticeable with the puck in his own zone, but Robidas was more noticeable making weak breakout attempts and throwing a nasty forearm against Shawne Matthias in the second.
Speaking of possession, this is one of those games where score effects make it a little hard to sort out just how drastic the shot differential really was, but the Leafs did a pretty good job of not turtling or becoming too passive once there were goals on the board.
Games like this are a great example of why a skilled fourth line matters. Both teams were getting scoring chances, the opposition team had four lines that are at least "capable" of scoring, and the Leafs get to answer with competent hockey players. Then the score goes up, and the Leafs get to take that pressure off the top players without begging to get dominated on the scoreboard.
The Leafs' next game will be Tuesday night at home, hosting the Flames. Go Leafs Go!