The Toronto Maple Leafs cleanly blow a multi-goal lead in the third period, lose to the Philadelphia Flyers in overtime. Frederik Andersen played out of his brain from puck-drop to final horn and the Leafs threw it away.
For a team that is supposed to be better defensively than last year, it’s interesting that the Leafs have now blown leads in three of their last four games. Four of their last four if you include the Ottawa debacle.
The Leafs play a pretty even first five minutes against the Flyers with both teams getting decent chances. Roman Polak and Leo Komarov each with a shot in that time. For the next few minutes, the Flyers set up shop in the Leafs’ high slot and not leave from there. Claude Giroux, Radko Gudas, and Ivan Provorov each with shots from that area.
Why does the James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Mitchell Marner line remind me of the Randy Carlyle era so much? End-to-end chances, defense is for losers, and incredible saves by the Leafs goalie to save the day.
The Leafs have had trouble getting any scoring chances near the net. Either the puck goes to the defense who try a point-shot, or the pass (it’s always a pass) gets broken up and the play loses its lustre. Ever since the end of November, this is who the Leafs have become and it clearly has not been working.
Two minutes left in the first period, Zach Hyman trips Shayne Gostisbehere (hereafter known as Ghost Bear) sending the Leafs to the penalty kill.
Freddy Andersen, who has been the best Leaf so far in this game, makes two top-notch saves on the Flyers power play. One is a deflection through a screen that Freddy saw somehow. The second, a right pad save on a Ghost Bear partial breakaway after catching Polak flat-footed.
47 seconds left in the penalty, Frederik Gauthier (hereafter known as The Goat) blocks a shot and heads the other way with Patrick Marleau to his left. Goat gets into the offensive zone and flips a back-hander towards Marleau who just sends the puck wide.
That play by the Goat is right out of his Marlies penalty kill playbook. Just watch this goal by Kasperi Kapanen and the set up by Goat, it’s exactly the same. Goat would have a three-point night that day and be called up to the Leafs not long after.
As a whole, that was a pretty good period for the Leafs. They won the shot attempts battle (19-17), stayed within one in the shots column (8-9), and tied the Flyers in scoring chances (9-9). All stats are all-situations and courtesy of HockeyStats.ca
Within the first two minutes of the second, the Leafs get a power play of their own. Seems a little too good to be true but we’ll take it! Andrew MacDonald to the box for hooking van Riemsdyk. Morgan Rielly and William Nylander get the most interesting looking chances for the Buds but, alas, nothing comes of them.
Hyman gets into some rough stuff over two shifts. The first being against Jakub Voracek at the faceoff dot. Neither would drop the gloves but there was some wood carving. The second instance came when Travis (not Dermott) Konecny hits Rielly after the whistle on an icing. An already edgy Hyman comes into the fray and makes sure to give Konecny a piece of his mind.
In typical Flyers fashion, Hyman is now on the Flyers’ hit-list. Right off a face-off win by the Leafs, Hyman goes to the left-side blueline so he can help cycle the puck out of the zone. That’s when a Flyers defenseman nails a puck-less Hyman from behind, knocking him straight to the ground. I know it’s “Let’s Celebrate the 90’s Night” in Philly but it’s 2018 and there should have been an interference call on the play.
The puck starts in the Leafs’ zone, the puck slides towards Ghost Bear’s stick. He completely whiffs on the puck, allowing Brown to get away for an almost 160ft long breakaway. Downtown comes in right up main street and fires the puck through the five-hole of Michal Neuvirth. Second game in a row that Brownie opens the scoring! Hyman with the assist on the play.
Who would have thought Freddy the Goat would do something quick but barely 23 second after the Brown goal, the Goat finds a Jake Gardiner rebound and swats it past Neuvirth for the second goal for the Leafs. Matt Martin with the other assist and Nylander right there. The process looks to be finally paying off.
Now, if you’re wondering why Brown was on the ice with Hyman and Nylander on the ice with the fourth line, that’s because Brown and Nylander have been switched. Yep.
babcock: "who will brown take minutes from in the top 9"— dom (@domluszczyszyn) January 19, 2018
babcock: got it. tie goes to the vet. nylander it is.
With less than half a minute left in the second, Morgan Rielly takes a terrible fall. Voracek battles with Rielly as the two head towards the slot, Voracek falls down behind him and knocks Morgan’s left leg out from under him. Rielly falls down awkwardly and is slow to get up.
The Leafs still lead the shot attempts share by two (38-36), still behind the Flyers in shots by one (19-20), but have pulled away in terms of scoring chances (23-18). That was a big period for the Buds. Good to know doing the right things gets rewarded.
Morgan Rielly returns for the second period, crisis averted.
Nolan Patrick steals the puck from Marner from behind the net, and in one motion, sweeps the puck through Freddy’s legs. It’s a one-goal game after the unassisted goal from the second-overall pick.
I’ll admit, I was mad at Marner until Gus came to my rescue.
Theyre going to blame Marner for the error on the Flyers 1st goal, but i think that was more about Patrick's effort rather than a bad play from Marner. If he gets the puck out just a bit farther & gains a stride, hes gone.— Gus Katsaros (@KatsHockey) January 19, 2018
Jori Lehtera takes an interference penalty and the Leafs head to their second power play of the game.
The Leafs try to get something going with the extra man but a van Riemsdyk shot does not get supported by Marner or Bozak at all allowing almost-Leaf Valtteri Filppula to get away with Wayne Simmonds for a 2-on-1 rush with only Rielly back. Morgan almost is able to break up the pass but Filppula’s saucer pass reaches its mark and Simmonds makes no mistake.
Auston Matthews nearly scores from right in front of the net but Neuvirth makes an unfair glove save to stop the Leafs’ top man. The rebound was in the air but Provorov swats the rebound away with his hand before the puck can come back down below the crossbar.
Midway through the final period, Komarov is in the offensive zone and glides in front of Giroux and somehow takes an interference penalty. Frankly, its a soft call but there’s nothing the Leafs can do other than kill the penalty.
For the next two minutes, Freddy Andersen shows why he is far and away the best player on Leafs roster. Within the first minute, Freddy makes three massive saves, two of which came from heavy point blasts by the Ghost Bear. The first, a full-extension screened glove save. The second, Andersen uses his mask to deflect a tipped shot that changed direction right in front of him. The third, a breakaway save on Voracek. World class play by the Danish goalie.
The Leafs got shelled in that period. Flyers now lead in shot attempts (57-65), shots (30-36), and have caught up in scoring chances (31-31). Hopefully 3-on-3 will turn the tides.
Matthews - Nylander - Gardiner kick off the overtime for the Buds. Matthews almost immediately gets the goal to win the game but a stick-check from behind coupled with a Neuvirth save stops him.
Going right back the other way, Sean Couturier recieves the pass from Konecny, over Gardiner’s stick, and into the back of the net. Leafs blow a 2-0 lead cleanly.
The Leafs will be back to blow another third period lead on Saturday, Hokey Night in Canada, against Ottawa in the Nation’s Capital (no, not Toronto, the one in your old and torn geography textbook).