The Leafs would face the Bruins again after Saturday's loss, hoping for some vengeance. They certainly got a better effort, they got a point for their troubles, and they got the game through 65 minutes of play into a shootout, but the result ended up the same. Leafs drop another to the Bruins.
The Leafs' play was a far cry from Saturday. Where the Leafs in Boston were getting wallpapered into their own zone and outworked on seemingly every shift, they carried the play for much of the game. For the last two periods, they peppered the Bruins with shots, got bundles of scoring chances, and gave the stoic Bruins defense some fits. Where the Leafs got in their own way on Saturday with poor play and stupid mistakes- including leaving Zdeno Chara all alone in the slot to rip home the game winner- they worked hard to keep the pressure in Boston's zone. The difference tonight was out of their control: Tuukka Rask.
Rask stopped 39 of 42 shots put his way, but that doesn't even tell half the tale. He made several key stops on some pretty dangerous Leaf shots in the third, and another huge save in overtime. He continued dominating in overtime, turning away shootout attempts from Peter Holland, P.A. Parenteau, and Joffrey Lupul. Reimer would get two good saves, but David Krejci tucked one under him to seal the loss for the Leafs.
Overall, the Leafs played their best game in a couple weeks, but ran into a good goalie.
The Leafs started the game slow. The first period could simply be summed up by a twenty-minute fart noise. You know that really wet-sounding fart noise where you're not quite sure if it's a fart? Yeah, it was that bad.
The Leafs got an early power play after Brett Connolly interfered with James Reimer. The Bruins boast the league's worst penalty kill, so naturally you know how this is going to end. Brad Marchand robs Reimer behind the net, leading to a Patrice Bergeron point-blank shot. While Reimer stopped that, his pads threw Marchand a 90 mph four-seam fastball, and he ripped a line drive to left-centre field to bring in a run. The Red Sox could probably use a power-hitting outfielder, so good job getting his name on their free agency radar, I guess.
If you're wondering whether the period got any better, Zac Rinaldo scored a goal, so that should tell you just about how it went. I want to burn all memory of that goal from the recesses of my brain, so I don't know how it looked. I think Dion Phaneuf had sloppy coverage, and Reimer probably could've had that blocker side? I don't know. You can't make me look again. I won't look again.
The Leafs managed to outshoot the Bruins, but the Leafs had little resembling a legitimate scoring chance, or anything Tuukka Rask couldn't stop.
Things would pick up drastically in the second half of the second period. After Nazem Kadri drew a penalty with his usual artistry, the Leafs went 6-on-5 on the delayed call. Tyler Bozak gets the puck to Joffrey Lupul, who shoots it through several bodies to get it through Rask and cut the lead in half. About a minute later, James van Riemsdyk put a shot on net from just behind the hashmarks. Leo Komarov was there to collect the rebound off Rask and snipe an open net shot. Tie game, 2-2.
The deadlock wouldn't last long. After a bad defensive zone turnover, Marchand gets his second goal on a weak, weak shot. The puck manages to trickle in a small gap between Reimer's pad and the net, and the Bruins take a 3-2 lead. But the Leafs got one back quickly to tie it 3-3. Bozak gets another rebound on an angle past Rask. Full marks to Shawn Matthias on an excellent block on Zdeno Chara, which gave Bozak all the time and space to convert that rebound.
The Leafs would get a prime opportunity for the lead after Adam McQuaid took a double minor late in the second period. P.A. Parenteau would take a tripping penalty during the ensuing power play, but it was offset by Brad Marchand taking a holding call. What was really excellent about that play, however, was Marchand's impeccable impersonation of someone slipping on a banana followed by his impassioned words for the official regarding the call. Look for that to get the Oscar nod for "Best Performance By A Passenger."
The Buds looked much better in the second; three goals aside, they got more shots, and generated many more chances. The shots were key; they put 16 on Rask, which is the kind of effort you need to beat him.
The Leafs started strong in the third with a couple of great scoring chances. Rask got the paddle on Parenteau, early, while JVR saw the Bruins goalie turn away a great chance and ensuing Komarov rebound. They continued getting an intense flurry of chances well into the third, but it ended up being a whole lot of coulda, shoulda, woulda.
Despite all the chances by the Leafs, the best chance of the third went to the Bruins. Patrice Bergeron flutters a shot off Reimer that goes behind him. It would have trickled to the goal line and in, were it not for some goaltending heroics by Morgan Rielly. Goaltending controversy over: gotta be startin' Rielly.
The Bruins would get a late power play on a Matt Hunwick tripping call, resulting in a flurry of chances. Luckily, the Leafs would hold on to kill the penalty and get one point. Despite a flurry of crazy offense- including JVR being downright robbed by Tuukka Rask with 9 seconds left- overtime solved nothing, so the Leafs proceeded to their sixth shootout of the season.
You know how this ends: both Rask and Reimer stood strong in the shootout, but David Krejci would net the lone goal in the third round to take the win for the Bruins.
Good, Bad, And Ugly
Good: Leo Komarov had the game-tying goal, led the team in possession, and generally played similar to a heat-seeking missile tonight. Bonus points to trying to muck it up with Chara. He wasn't successful, but he tried.
Bad: Matt Hunwick took two bad penalties tonight, including one with two minutes left that could have lost the Leafs the game in regulation. I'd be compelled to add James Reimer in here, but he rebounded after a rough first period making 19 of 20 saves. Honestly, with the November he's had, he was probably due anyway.
Ugly: Brad Marchand, both in the weird second period goal he scored, and his face. Especially his face.