The Toronto Maple Leafs earn a pity-point in a very exciting game that included a sexy William Nylander wrister, a classic JVR tip, and a 2016-style Leafs blown lead all coalescing into a 3-2 OTL at the hands of Sergei Bobrovsky, Artemi Panarin and the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Leafs come out looking a lot sharper and quicker than the Blue Jackets and as a result jump out to a 6-3 shot attempt lead in the first five minutes. Not surprising given their opponents played into the shootout against Florida and had to travel right after.
Roman Polak takes a boarding penalty along the half-wall after hitting Sedlak on the numbers. Big chance for penalty killer Polak to show us why he’s here.
Even on the penalty kill, Connor Brown is out-working the Blue Jackets in their own end. Overall very efficient penalty kill for the team.
Ron Hainsey played the entire two minutes down a man with Rielly and Gardiner swapping as his partner. It’ll be good to see Zaitsev back in the lineup even if the only thing he does is not make Hainsey play two minutes of PK every time Polak takes a penalty. Which has been often.
Kadri takes a slashing penalty. The Blue Jackets have definitely made the most of these man advantages as they’ve had the majority of scoring chances from the Polak penalty onward. At least Freddy’s glove is working tonight.
The JVR - Bozak - Marner line was easily the Leafs’ best in that period. They boasted the best chances on Sergei Bobrovsky and led the team in shot share for the first period (Bozak +7, Dermott +5, Marner +5, JVR +4).
As a team, the Buds started strong but the two penalties saw them fall behind in shot-attempts (17-21), shots (8-11), and scoring chances (6-11). Things are a little more even at 5v5 but the Blue Jackets still lead in all three categories.
Jordan Schroeder dashes by Hainsey and nearly scores but Freddy Andersen reaches back with his glove and keeps the puck from going through his five-hole.
Freddy the Goat nearly gets the first goal of the game for the Leafs after finding a rebound right at the side of the net. Unfortunately, the 6’5” center shoots the puck wide.
Dermott later takes his first penalty in the NHL and it’s a fairly soft hooking call on Matt Calvert. The Leafs would kill off the penalty without too much hassle.
With about 10 minutes to go in the period, Artemi Panarin finds some space to get a good shot on Andersen. Freddy stops the puck with his elbow and Bakugan morphs into a snow-angel as tries to avoid putting in the rebound himself.
Roman Polak throws the puck towards the net from the farthest point in the offensive zone. JVR reaches to his right and tips the puck back to his left and, as a result, into the net. Polak and Bozak with the assists on the tip in goal.
And then this happens, and Leafs Nation gets very confused because Marner looked like the best Leaf on the ice.
Mitch Marner is on the fourth line with Gauthier and Martin, while Connor Brown has moved up to Bozak's line.— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) January 9, 2018
Babcock probably looking for a spark. Or he's still feeling the effects of whatever illness Babs mentioned this morning?
The Bozak line gets hemmed in by the Panarin line not too long after. Freddy with a couple good stops to keep the Leafs’ lead intact. But then, all of a sudden, Brown and Bozak get released for a 2-on-1 going the other way.
Brown tries to reach the puck around the sprawling defender but can’t quite get the puck to Bozak. The Leafs’ third line maintains control of the puck in the zone and is able to turn the table on the Artemi Panarin - Pierre-Luc Dubois - Josh Anderson, hemming them in themselves.
A tired Josh Anderson takes a slashing penalty on a fresh Auston Matthews. Leafs to their first power play.
William Nylander, on the power play, from his office on the right wing, snipes a perfect shot on Goalie Bob. Jake Gardiner gets the only assist but Matthews’ kick pass is the real set-up play here. What a goal!
The most surprising part of that play was learning that Nylander has 10 points in his last 10 games. He’s quietly having a monster season despite being a card-carrying member of the Big Three. How is that possible?
Matt Calvert pushes Gardiner into Dermott with the puck nowhere near the three, that’s two for interference. Leafs on another power play.
On the man-advantage, Josh Anderson beats Matthews to a puck before ringing the puck off the post. In a moment of perfect irony, the Leafs go back the other way and Nylander breaks Anderson’s ankles with a deke in the offensive zone.
The Matthews line comes alive at even strength and on the power play. They created several chances and Matthews even drew the penalty — with help from Brown and Bozak — that Nylander would eventually score on.
Toronto still trails Columbus in shots (22-25), attempts (38-46), and scoring chances (16-19). Once again, taking out power plays flatters the Leafs a little bit more but not enough to give them the edge in any of the above categories.
Rielly, Gauthier and Kadri all get odd-man rushes and elect to shoot each time. Rielly’s high shot gets deflected with the glove of Goalie Bob, Gauthier puts the puck a little too high, and Kadri gets stopped with a low blocker save.
That Russian goalie sure is good, has anyone thought about giving him a Vezina?
It’s been tough to beat Bob in this game, but it’s been impossible for the Blue Jackets to even get a chance on Frederik Andersen. It took until there was only 9:57 left in the game for the red, white, and blue squad to even get a shot on net in the third period. Toronto now leading that category 31-25.
On the second shot for Columbus in the period, Nick Foligno sends a shot that Andersen deflects straight upwards. The puck comes back down into Freddy’s padding and bounces into the net. Tough way to lose a shut-out bid. It is now a one-goal game with 4:35 left.
Pierre-Luc Dubois ties the game with a wicked wrist shot set up by Seth Jones, beating Freddy clean. Rielly with a really bad turnover there after being talked about very highly by the TSN crew. Leafs blow their two-goal lead.
Kadri - Komarov - Rielly kick off the overtime against Panarin and two other Blue Jackets that don’t matter. Kadri is set up by Rielly for a great chance, but Bob shuts out the short side.
Rielly gets hauled down, no call.
Panarin big chance one way, Freddy stops him.
Bozak a huge chance the other way, Bob with an even bigger stop.
Panarin looks like he kicks the puck in after scoring on a 2-on-1 with Zach Werenski but it’s ruled a good goal.
Leafs lose. :(
Gardiner and Dermott are both so mobile and fluid in both zones that i don’t think handedness will play much of a factor for this pair if it stays a thing.
My favourite aspect of Mitch Marner’s game is that whenever he gets an inch of space, he makes the most of it. Drive the net, force the defense to make a play against you, move the puck to your offensively competent linemates. It’s a recipe for success that will pay off in the long run.
Morgan Rielly had a great game playing against top competition in the Panarin - Dubois - Anderson line, but the last five minutes of the third saw him turn the puck over twice and get caught chasing a odd-man rush that Hainsey had to be heroic to parry away.
The Maple Leafs’ next game will be Wednesday at home against the Ottawa Senators. 7:30 pm EST start this time. Make sure to send Guy Boucher your best regards!