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Recap: Killed by the penalty kill, Leafs lose 4-3

Special teams were the difference in this one.

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

BoxscorePossession stats

Well that game happened. Reimer had a tough night. So did the penalty kill. This game probably would have been unwatchable if it were broadcast on Sportsnet but, thankfully, Ray Ferarro is much (much!) smarter than Glenn Healy.

Toronto had some penalty trouble in this one and Arizona capitalized. Scott Harrington went off early in the period for tripping. Max Domi scored less than ten seconds into the power play, beating James Reimer high glove side because of course Domi was going to score in this game.

Then, Nazem Kadri got called for closing his hand around the puck, an incredibly strange call. Arizona put the puck in the net with Martin Hanzal deflecting a Michael Stone point shot but the goal was called off for high sticking.

Toronto evened it up soon after off an offensive zone faceoff. Mark Arcobello actually lost the faceoff but the puck went right through Zbynek Michalek's legs and both Brad Boyes and Shawn Matthias are allowed to walk right up to the net. Boyes got a shot off and Matthias put the rebound past Mike Smith.

Arizona reclaimed their lead after Toronto took yet another penalty--this time it was James van Riemsdyk taking a completely unnecessary cross checking penalty in the neutral zone. Defensive zone coverage on this play was just brutal, lots of puck watching. Oliver Ekman-Larsson took a shot from the point and two players went to challenge him on the shot. Morgan Rielly was puck watching on the play, too, leaving both Mikkel Boedker and Shane Doan wide open. Ekman-Larsson's shot went wide, the puck bounced to Boedker behind the goal line, and he passed the puck behind an out of position Reimer to Doan, who was wide open for the easy tap in.

That goal wasn't all Byron Froese's fault but I'm not quite sure what Babcock is doing having Froese play on the PK. He had a rough night at even strength, too. He started out the game on the second line with Joffrey Lupul and Daniel Winnik and had a dreadful CF%31 at even strength before being demoted to the fourth line in the third. Those numbers fit in with my eye test, too. He didn't do much of anything the entire night and that line was hemmed in on multiple occasions.

Arcobello jumped up to the second line in his place and managed to drag Lupul and Winnik possession up above 50%. Froese and Holland (who I'm not certain played at all in the third) were the only Leafs with a CF% under 50% at even strength.

Toronto got a chance on the PP at the end of the period. Kadri had lots of room to shoot at on the far side and he beat a screened Mike Smith but not the crossbar.

Toronto managed to stay out of the box in the second but couldn't keep Arizona off the scoreboard. Klas Dahlbeck put the Coyotes up 3-1 on a slapshot that went in low blocker side after some poor defensive zone play from Toronto. Stop me if this sounds familiar but the Leafs are caught puck watching, leaving Dahlbeck wide open. Regardless, Reimer should have had that one but was out of position again, leaving far too much room short side for Dahlbeck to shoot at.

Despite my negativity, the Leafs were actually quite good at even strength. They had some trouble winning puck battles and looked to have some difficulty with Arizona's speed at times but still had great possession at even strength. Rielly had another incredible game, as did the first line of Kadri, van Riemsdyk, and Komarov. Rielly was probably the best Leafs player on the ice, carrying the puck up ice and creating a tonne of chances in the offensive zone. Kadri had a great game, too. That first line didn't spend a whole lot of time in their own zone, either, getting some great chances.

That first line got some extended offensive zone time to start the third period but JVR got into a scuffle with Boyd Gordon in front of Mike Smith's crease. They both went off and the Coyotes score on the ensuing 4-on-4. The puck bounced over Hunwick's stick in the offensive zone and the Coyotes quickly transitioned up ice. Reimer made the initial save on Ekman-Larsson but couldn't cover the puck up before Kyle Chipchura pounced on the rebound to make it 4-1.

Just when it looked like it was over, though, JVR got a breakaway and beat Smith five-hole. The Leafs then got a power play opportunity late in the game. Babcock pulled Reimer for the sixth skater half way through and Morgan Rielly scored on the 6-on-5, ten seconds after the powerplay expired to put the team within one.

They had some decent chances after that and Rielly had an incredible play to keep the puck in at the blue line but couldn't tie the game up in the dying seconds. Babcock also decided to put Froese out to take the faceoff in the offensive zone with 23 seconds left, for some reason. I'm shocked that it didn't work out.

Bottom line: Leafs lose despite dominating possession. Their terrible penalty kill was the difference in this one, letting in two goals on four penalties, in addition to the goal they gave up on the 4-on-4. The tank rolls on.