Auston Matthews’ line (with William Nylander and Zach Hyman) kicks off the game with an early scoring chance — Hyman tipping a Jake Gardiner shot into the glove of Scott Wedgewood.
Nylander and Mitchell Marner have definitely carried the play from the neutral zone into the offensive zone so far in this game. Nylander and Marner with two almost end-to-end rushes already.
Andreas Borgman cross-checks an Arizona Coyotes winger in the back at the offensive blue-line. That’s two minutes (or less) for interference. Leafs to the penalty kill.
On the penalty kill, Hyman burns Derek Stepan in a footrace in the neutral zone before firing the puck top shelf on Wedgewood. Hyman’s seventh goal is unassisted and the Leafs second shorthanded goal of the season.
William Nylander bursts into the offensive zone with blistering speed, sends the puck to his running-mate Auston Matthews who snipes, cellies, and smiles because that’s his first goal against his home-town team. Gardiner with the second assist. :)
Another one! James van Reimsdyk wins a puck battle behind the net. Tyler Bozak retrieves the puck and throws it towards a falling Marner who is in the slot. He shoots off his back foot and past the Arizona goaltender. Someone tell that kid to go to sleep, it’s well past his bed-time.
After a quick three-spot by the Maple Leafs, the Tyler Bozak line gets caught in the defensive zone and Josh Archibald gets his first goal in the NHL. Jordan Martinook with the assist.
Uh oh. Matt Martin loses a puck battle in the neutral zone to Stepan. He passes to Tobias Rieder who beats Gardiner to the side of the net and centres the puck to Brendan Perlini. His one-timer beats Frederik Andersen bringing the Yotes to within one.
The Bozak line once again gets caught in the defensive zone, leading to trade-bait Anthony Duclair getting a grade-A scoring chance. Freddy saves the Leafs from losing their entire lead, robbing Duclair with the blocker.
Carrick heads to the box for interference, and so does all of the Leafs’ momentum that they gained with the first three goals.
The period ends and not a minute too soon for the Leafs who were out shot-attempted 20-2 after the Marner goal. Shot share heavily favoured the desert team who lead in shots (11-13), shot attempts (16-38), and scoring chances (10-19).
On the bright side, despite the team getting caved in in the shots battle Auston Matthews and his line are a plus-3 so far in this game. His line has also not given up a shot on goal so far.
After getting a Lawson Crouse elbow to the neck Nazem Kadri does not return to the players bench to begin the second period. More like Lawless Crouse, ammirite!
Naz caught en elbow. Shaken up, no call. pic.twitter.com/yTKtOSdkfQ— Flintor (@TheFlintor) December 29, 2017
A quick line check sees Auston with Marleau and Komarov early in the period, so Nylander is getting a shot at centre with Hyman and maybe Connor Brown?
Polak loses a race to the net and is forced to take an interference penalty. Polak now leads all defensemen with 10 minor penalties taken despite only appearing in 19 games. Only JVR (11) and Hyman (10) have more.
On the penalty kill, Dominic Moore shoves OEL and gets a roughing penalty 200ft from his own net. Two vets taking pretty brainless penalties. The Leafs will have to kill a 5-on-3 power play for 1:44.
Arizona gets only one shot on net after a valiant effort from Morgan Rielly, Ron Hainsey, and especially Leo Komarov. Leo was aggressive, tenacious and smart for the whole 104 seconds of that kill. Major props to the uncle.
The Leafs spend a few minutes to slowly get their confidence back and earn themselves a power play (Max Domi for high-sticking). On the power play, Rielly goes across the blueline to Marner who sends a shot-pass to Marleau in the high slot. His tip goes up and over the Arizona goalie and into the net. Two-goal lead restored!
William Nylander strips OEL of the puck at the offensive blue-line and scores a beauty with elf-like elegance. Perfect footwork, silky smooth hands, and the poise of a player playing with a lot of confidence.
Patrick Marleau scores 10 seconds later! The old man shows off his young hands with a slick fake-tip before sliding the puck to his backhand for an easy goal. Komarov started the play by intercepting the puck near the blueline before finding an open Marner who sent the puck to his father with a quick one-touch pass.
Martinook gets one back for the Coyotes after beating Borgman to a rebound and sliding it past Freddy Andersen for the goal. Toby Rieder with the assist.
As the period ends, Connor Brown takes off right as the Leafs win the faceoff. He accepts the pass from Gardiner and streaks in on Wedgewood but fires his short-side shot high.
The Leafs do a better job in the second than they did in the first, but still get out-shot (11-12), -shot attempted (19-24), and -scoring chanced (9-10). Not the 2-1 margins that was the second period, but not the dominant performance you’d expect out of the 10th best team against the worst team in the league.
With a game to play on the second half of a back-to-back that includes travel, the Leafs shut down the neutral zone for half the third period.
With 7:39 to go in the game, Moore takes his second penalty of the game, a hooking infraction off a faceoff in his own zone.
On the penalty kill, Christian Fischer gets inside position both Polak and Hainsey so that he can tap home the rebound created my Clayton Keller.
After shutting down the game from the power play goal onwards, Connor Brown earns himself the empty-net goal giving the Leafs some breathing room with 2:30 left in the contest.
Bonnor Crown seals the deal with the EN.— Flintor (@TheFlintor) December 29, 2017
7-4 Leafs pic.twitter.com/rkXhc9vrOv
Within the last two minutes of the game, Borgman and Duclair get into a literal fist-fight in front of the net. There wasn’t too much into the scrap seeing as its at the end of a blowout against an opponent a conference away. I guess Borg wanted first dibs at the showers.
Congrats to Andreas Borgman on the first fight he's ever been in pic.twitter.com/0JJSliBDMF— Richard Lee-Sam (@RLeesam) December 29, 2017
Carrick gets called for a cross-check (?) with a little over a minute left in the game. Leafs kill off the final minute and this game is done.
- Polak looked like he was skating off a big Christmas dinner. Then again he kind of always looks like that.
- I have to say that Borgman didn’t have a good game at all. The penalty came at a bad time and he lost a few battles in front of the net you would expect him to be better at.
- Patrick Marleau is 38-years-old but he definitely doesn’t play his age. He’s quick with and without the puck, his puck-handling skills have not dropped off at all, and he’s always aware of where he is relative to everyone else on the ice in both zones — something that really helps him when playing with his youngest son.
- Despite giving up four goals, Freddy Andersen was a rock for the Leafs. He made a dazzling blocker save when his team was up 3-2 and a clutch glove save when they were on top 4-2.
- The Leafs outshot the Coyotes 11-7 in the third period despite having a multi-goal lead the entire time. That alone is a great sign that the Leafs aren’t going to let the final period get away from them like they did so many times last year.
- Marner was amazing on the backcheck when having to cover for a defenseman. Twice he was able to get back into the play from his position and stick-lift the puck carrier, completely negating any offensive zone time for the Yotes. Gosh, he’s so good.
- Auston Matthews and William Nylander are a superstar combo in this league and I don’t really know what else I can say about them. They’re dynamic with the puck whenever they have it, they (along with Hyman) do all of the hard work that is needed to earn themselves scoring chances, and they simply produce points.
- Hopefully Naz feels better. The hit wasn’t big or anything but it doesn’t need to when it’s targetted at the neck. Kadri is a huge part of this team, if he’s out for any extended period of time the Leafs will definitely feel it.