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Recap: Leafs beat the Rangers 8-5 in a hell of a game

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Points are fun but maybe keep your foot on the gas next time boys.

NHL: New York Rangers at Toronto Maple Leafs Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

1st period

Matthews line starts with William Nylander at the faceoff dot. They get pinned into their own zone, Auston Matthews dumps it out end of shift. The Bozak line then gets a couple good chances quickly when NYR have a line change.

1-0 Dominic Moore makes an early assault on the hearts and minds of Leafs fans by redirecting a Nikita Zaitsev shot through traffic past Henrik Lundqvist.

1-1 tie after the Bozak line can’t get the puck out of their own end or keep bodies in front of the Rangers, JT Miller deflects one by Frederik Andersen.

Ugh. For some reason Babs has a chat with the officials but no challenge

2-1 Took him 3 tries but eventually Zach Hyman manages to get the puck in the net.

Worrisome few moments as Freddie loses his stick behind the net but the puck goes out of play before anything disastrous happens.

Pretty even game so far, back and forth, time in zones about equal. Not sure if Leafs are leaving too much space free in front of Freddie or enough that he can see things clearly. Eye test says Leafs are getting the better chances though.

Remember when the CBC crew couldn’t ever say anything positive about the Leafs? Think they might be pumping their tires a bit tonight.

Leafs on the power play after Kevin Shattenkirk loses a battle with Matt Martin. A few chances for the Bozak unit but Lundqvist gets the puck. Pass goes awry and everyone changes, Matthews unit immediately brings some pressure.

3-1 Second try entering the zone Jake Gardiner takes it right in, whiffs and then fires past Lundqvist.

Somehow there was a delayed penalty on the play (slashing by Mats Zuccarello on Gards) so the power play continues

Mitch Marner carrying the puck through the zone is just pretty.

Puck gets cleared a few times too often near the end of the second penalty but as it expires the Leafs get another chance

4-1 Nazem Kadri and Leo Komarov both have close ones but it’s not until the puck gets back to Zaitsev that it beats Lundqvist.

Remember how I said the game was pretty even in terms of zone time? Yeah, the Leafs decided they didn’t like that. They just keep coming.

5-1 Oh man, Lundqvist thought he was freezing the puck and it just kept going under him. Credited to Hyman but Grabner was pretty involved in that mess.

“Lundqvist is still in” Yeah there’s 2:30 left in the period putting Ondrej Pavelec in cold against this siege would just be mean. Let him have a warmup.

Bronx cheer from the fans as Lundqvist makes a save with 1:36 left.

5-2 Rick Nash pressures Zaitsev into a penalty with 44 seconds left and Kevin Shattenkirk gets a screened shot through just 20 seconds in.

I’m not terribly displeased with this, I wasn’t looking forward to the Rangers starting the period with over a minute on the powerplay.

And that’s only one period, holy crap, guys.

2nd period

Pavelec is in in relief and nearly gives one up in his first minute. Lundqvist is a notoriously slow starter so he’s going to get a lot of work in October.

I think we’re all a little afraid of score effects and/or exhaustion but the Leafs are still pressing. As the commentators have observed, not everyone has a point yet! (later note: whyyy did I say this?)

Power play for the Leafs. Pavelec goes spinning but manages to stop a chance by the Bozak unit. The Matthews group get Auston a chance with a nifty pass from Nylander, but to Ema Matthews’ dismay, Pavelec stops that too.

Third and fourth lines give the Rangers some zone time and Andersen has to earn his supper a couple of times. Hainsey and Rielly are the defense pair for most of this.

Nylander’s called for slashing so the Leafs go to the kill.

5-3 Mika Zibanejad from Shattenkirk with Kreider screening Andersen. It’s possible the Leafs need to get better on the kill.

Fans are a lot quieter, the Leafs need to get something going.

Miller takes down Hainsey hard and Captain Morgan has a few words for Miller after the whistle. Not quite what I was hoping for but it gets the crowd back in it.

We come back from the break and the Rangers keep Freddie so busy I was holding my breath until Brown (whose number I am not used to yet) finally managed to carry it out.

5-4 Rangers score on a delayed penalty that is really a 6 on 4 as Marner loses his stick trying to avoid the call and can’t properly defend.

Is every period going to basically be a different game? Stay tuned.

5-5 Staal sends it from the blueline and it goes flying off Zuccarello’s stick. Goal’s reviewed for a high stick but the call stands.

Four unanswered goals is not a good look and now the Leafs get called for too many men. Marner sits. The crowd gets loud again and the team makes it through the kill.

Mathews... to Nylander... no dice.

Some more Leafs pressure at the end of the period but they can’t solve Pavelec.

Are we sure that was two periods and not two games?

3rd period

Andersen has to make a terrific save very early on.

Pretty much every play now is heart-in-mouth for a good reason or a bad one.

We’re about five minutes into the third period and so far neither team has managed much in the way of extended zone time. If that changes, likely so will the score. (Deep, I know.)

Rielly with a great shot but Pavelec has it.

6-5 Leafs get that extended zone time I was hoping for and sure enough after a bunch of shots Bozak taps one over Pavelec’s glove. The Rangers challenge for offside, because Marner entered the zone in an exceedingly weird manner.

The first offside review this season results in a goal AND a power play for the Leafs.

Ooof a shot by Bozak goes high off Pavelec’s head.

As Gardiner goes to collect the puck I have to say he’s had a heads-up game.

FIve on three for five seconds as Marner gets slashed.

7-5 Matthews to Nylander and it’s in! (Oh wait, it’s not, but Komarov follows up and makes it count after all.) After the first game of the season someone asked Andersen if the Leafs could keep up seven goals a game and he said it would be nice. It’s nice but it’d be better if it wasn’t needed.

Still got almost half a period left and I am not ready to declare this game over. Neither are the teams, who are racing up and down in a quest for more points.

Morgan Rielly blocks a shot with five minutes to go and is clearly in pain. Whether that’s a long term problem remains to be seen.

Vigneault breaks whatever record Roy set for early goalie pull by pulling Pavelec with over four minutes to go. An icing call sends him back into the net and for several seconds it looks like the Leafs won’t let him leave again.

Ryan McDonagh hooks Nylander and Pavelec is back in goal for the penalty kill. Marner, Matthews, Nylander, Brown and Gardiner - cue Davy Jones starry-eyes.

8-5 Lovely group, but it’s Nazem Kadri who gets the power play goal.

So if this was three distinct games, Leafs won the first one 5-2, lost the second 3-0 and won the third 3-0. Two out of three ain’t bad, but will Babcock see it that way?