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Supposed Cup Contender Needs Shootout to Beat Leafs, 3-2

The Leafs didn't deserve it, but took advantage of some puck luck to take the Habs to a shootout.

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

I got good feedback on the last recap I did, where I basically just wrote down my comments on the game as they occurred, so I'm going to do that again. As always, let me know what you like and don't like about the format.

First Period

  • Sorry Dave Keon, I'm skipping the ceremony. Though I'm sure people will complain it's too long and Bruce Arthur will tweet about how it's not nearly as good as the Habs ceremony to honour the assistant equipment manager from the 1970s.
  • Speaking of the Habs.... this recap will be heavily biased against them. You've been warned.
  • This game is being broadcast in 4K, which we will be incessantly reminded of for the next three hours. Why anyone would want to see Max Pacioretty in MORE detail is beyond me
  • We're with our usual HNIC trio of Jim Hughson, Craig Simpson, and Glenn Healy. Great.
  • Looks like Leivo will be playing with Holland and Lupul. Glad to see him have offensively competent linemates
  • Welp, that was fast. Montreal scores early, as David Desharnais capitalizes on hilariously bad positioning by Morgan Rielly, taking a pass in the slot totally unguarded, and making no mistake. No chance for Reimer.
  • C'mon Leafs. I know we're all rooting for a draft pick, but do it for Elseldo
  • Hunwick turns the puck over in his own zone, leading to a pseudo-chance for the Habs. Him and Rielly have been quietly terrible in their own end the entire year.
  • The Habs are all over the Leafs early, a continuation of the trend we've seen in the last few games.
  • The Leafs 4th line has the first good shift of the game for the Buds, pinning in the habs 4th line for half a minute or so.
  • We get our first 4K plug of the evening. I wouldn't recommend using that for the HNIC drinking game unless you really hate your liver.
  • The kid in that Scotiabank commercial has great hair.
  • Komarov takes a 'closing his hand on the puck' penalty. Surely that should just fall under the delay of game umbrella.
  • Jeez, this game is basically just an add for 4K. Coming back from commercial, they spend another 30 seconds boosting it further.
  • Ok, I swear they're intentionally advertising the 4K too much now. It's been mentioned 3 separate times within a minute of game time.
  • The Leafs killed off the penalty, by the way.
  • Shots are 11-0 for the Habs right now. That's not ideal.
  • As funny as the Habs recent collapse has been, they've been a pretty excellent possession team, but have been snakebit when it comes to shooting percentage and goaltending.
  • The Leafs look like they're skating in Jello.
  • Craig Simpson somehow tries to argue that missing Carey Price has caused the Montreal offense to dry up. Sure thing, buddy.
  • This game is really depressing to watch right now. Carlyle-era hockey being played. As I say that, the Leafs take another penalty. Holland goes off for holding the stick.
  • The broadcast decides to use the SkyCam, ensuring no one can see the puck for the entirety of the power play.The Leafs kill it off.
  • The Leafs have had no success entering the Montreal zone. Like, literally none. They're getting bogged down in the neutral zone when they even get it that far.
  • Part of the problem is that the Leafs are so penned in their own zone, when they do get out to the neutral zone, they have to dump and change. Which gives a free chance for Montreal to break out again.
  • When Rich Clune has been your best forward, there are some major issues.
  • Also Leivo has been demoted to the 4th line. Though they've been the best line, so maybe it's a promotion. Who knows?
  • Montreal takes a deserved two goal lead. The Leafs collapse like mad on a controlled zone entry from the Habs,  allowing for an uncontested shot from the slot, which beats Reimer before being deflected by Daniel Carr. Bozak shows little defensive awareness on the play, which is of course, not pointed out by the commentators.
  • I tend not to get hyperbolic, but this was an absolutely disgraceful period of play from the Leafs.
  • First period mercifully ends with no further damage, and the Leafs putting together a decent last shift. Nonetheless, that was pretty horrifying. Shots are 1209512957128951 - 2 for Montreal.
Second Period

  • So according to Twitter, Don Cherry said something racist during Coaches Corner? Can't say I'm surprised
  • Second period gets underway... lets hope it goes a little better.
  • More 4K ads.
  • Leafs get a PP. Big chance to get some sustained pressure for the first time in the game.
  • Kadri creates a great chance for Peter Holland, who somehow doesn't score it. No clue how that didn't go in. I think he fanned on it? Anyways, the Leafs don't score on the power play, surprising nobody.
  • The Leafs are sort of playing better, but they're really not generating much, and some of this is surely score effects.
  • On a side note, Morgan Rielly has been very disappointing to me this year. He might not even be a the 4th best defenseman taken in the first round of the 2012 draft.
  • Seriously, the 4th line has actually been good. The Leafs best line, by some margin. But if you're on the 4th line of the Leafs, odds are you're not a particularly talented finisher.
  • Clune needs a tighter helmet.
  • Leivo back with Lupul and Holland. His 'demotion' might have been a one-shift thing, or maybe just caught on a change.
  • Kadri gets one back for the Leafs, off a great play from Morgan Rielly, who was clearly inspired by me crapping on him a minute ago. His skating ability allowed him to put a lot of pressure on the defense on that rush, and from a pass from Komarov, the Leafs essentially forced a partial 2 on 1. Rielly's pass found Kadri, who made no mistake.
  • Phaneuf takes a penalty for cross-checking Galchenyuk. They need to kill this off if they have any hope of winning this game.
  • Subban's willingness to try audacious moves always impresses me. Gotta respect a guy who trusts his ability on the puck that much.
  • Immediately off the back of the Habs PP, the Leafs get one. Looks like tripping on Wiese.
  • Phenomenal shift by the second PP unit, generating tons of chances. Rielly, in particular, is running the show on the power play.
  • Just to explain why I think Rielly has been disappointing, I feel like his weaknesses haven't really improved much. Last year, he struggled defensively, particularly with puck-watching and gap control. Those are still MASSIVE issues for him. And his possession results, which tended to be strong relative to his team in his rookie and sophomore years, indicate that he's a negative CorsiRel% player for the first time.
  • That disgusting commercial telling kids to put heaps of pressure on themselves to make the 2023 edition of Team Canada is back on. That commercial actually makes me angry.
  • This period has been much better for the Leafs. As mentioned, some of that is score effects, but they're also having an easier time getting into the Habs zone, exploiting their speed more, and forechecking more aggressively to force defensive and neutral zone turnovers that they can turn into offensive pressure.
  • Leafs win the second period Corsi battle 19-14, though it was 10-10 at even strength.
Third Period

  • Matthias nearly gets a partial break about a minute into the third, but he can't bring the puck with him, and it comes to nothing.
  • Seriously, this 4th line has been legitimately good. They get sustained zone pressure on the Subban pairing, and the Leafs look the more dangerous team to start the third.
  • Both teams are taking runs at one another now, with Phaneuf laying the body on Pacioretty, and Kadri hitting everything in sight.
  • Another brilliant play by Rielly leads to a goal (seriously, he must really be mad at me). He helps Lupul push the puck out of the defensive zone after poking it free along the boards, makes a good pass to Holland, who's shot rebounds to Lupul with an empty net to aim at. Tie game, and the Leafs deserve credit for not letting that horrofic first period doom them.
  • Hughson makes a Game of Thrones reference that couldn't have been more uncool.
  • This crowd has been pretty dead, but they're starting to come to life now.
  • The 4th line continues to get minutes, and deservedly so. They've been really impressive.
  • Marincin has also been quietly good today. Hasn't had any notable brainfarts, and his pairing with Polak has looked surprisingly competent.
  • Brendan Gallagher gets a partial break out of nothing, but is stoned by Reimer. Massive, massive save. Hunwick looked like a beer league defender there.
  • I haven't noticed Bozak at all this game, except for his matador-style defensive play on the second goal.
  • The Habs start creating some pressure, but no high quality chances arise as a result. Daniel Carr has been pretty lively. I've never heard of him before, but he might be decent.
  • It looks like Gallagher scored right off the draw, but while the shot beat Reimer, it hit the post and crawled along the goal line. Super close call, and the Habs have started to generate more pressure as the third period has progressed.
  • The game is just yo-yoing between the Leafs defensive zone and the neutral zone. The Leafs are having trouble exiting with control, much like the first.
  • More pressure from the Habs, and this is getting to nail-biting time if you're a Leafs fan.
  • With about 5 minutes to go, it's more of the same. Less plugs for 4K though.
  • Matthias very nearly sends Peter Holland in for a breakaway, but he can't lift the pass enough and it gets blocked.
  • Hockey's worst rule comes into play, as Leivo is penalized for batting a puck out of midair and out of play in his own zone. Clearly wasn't intentional, but rules are rules. It's a dumb rule, but it's the correct application of it. Ant the Habs will spend 2 of the final 3 minutes of the game on the PP.
  • GBSR
  • God, Gallagher is so annoying. Like Komarov, but way more skilled.
  • Great PK from the Leafs, who limit the chances to one Gallagher tip. A minute left, tie game.
  • Kadri gets robbed by Condon with 30 seconds to go, off a nice pass from the defenseman (Rielly, I think).
  • Overtime beckons. Each team controlled the third period in spurts, but the Habs seemed to get the better end of it, winning the ES Corsi battle 20-15.

  • I should say, before OT starts, I LOVE 3v3 OT. Makes it super fun to watch. Who doesn't want to watch Rielly and Subban have room to skate.
  • Tepid first 30 seconds of the overtime period, as both teams wait for the other to make a mistake.
  • Rielly takes a risk and almost ends the game, as he makes a great pass to Bozak to spring him for a break. Due to good defensive pressure, he can't get a shot away.
  • Bozak then cycles and makes a chance out of nothing, but Condon comes up big.
  • On the other end, Reimer does too, as chances come thick and fast now.
  • Subban springs Desharnais for a breakaway, but a great backcheck from Parenteau saves the day.
  • The shootout sucks.

  • Holland up to shoot first for the Leafs. Goes backhand - forehand - roof. 1-0 Leafs.
  • Galchenyuk up for the Canadiens. Comes in too slow, and Reimer tracks his dekes all the way.
  • P.A. Parenteau with the chance to stick it to his former team and coach. He elects to shoot, and it's saved by Condon.
  • Brian Flynn nearly gets it by Reimer going backhand - forehand, but it stops on the goal line
  • Nazem Kadri with a chance to win it against his childhood team, but Condon makes a really phenomenal save on Kadri's nifty deke.
  • Pacioretty needs to score here to keep them alive, and does just that. Great shot beats Reimer. 1-1.
  • Bozak is stopped by Condon too, who's looked great since the Holland goal.
  • Desharnais is stopped by Reimer, and we go to a 5th round.
  • Joffrey Lupul is saved (can you tell I'm getting tired?)
  • My uh... TV cut out here, but it came back and showed Habs celebrating, so I guess they won on the next attempt.
In general, the Leafs didn't deserve to be in this game. They put together some decent stretches, but on the whole, they can thank James Reimer and the hockey gods for keeping the game even. The shootout didn't work out, but it's a shootout, so who cares.