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Recap: Leafs fall to the Penguins in a masterful road game from Matt Murray and Evgeni Malkin

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The Leafs looked overmatched half the time as they lost 3-0.

Pittsburgh Penguins v Toronto Maple Leafs
The moment is was all over.
Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

So that got under everyone’s skin, eh? It just sounded honest to me. The Penguins are who the Leafs aspire to be, but they aren’t there yet. When they arrive, we’ll all be sure — you, me and Lars Eller.

Will the Leafs beat the team with the toughest one-two punch in hockey? Maybe. At some point, they have to lose to someone other than the Senators, that much is certain. It might be tonight, it might not be.

Frederik Andersen is starting, and Garret Sparks corrected his stats picture with one good game, Andersen could do the same. Other than Tyler Ennis taking a turn and Andreas Johnsson sitting out, everything else is the same.

First Period

[20:00 - 15:00]

Nikita Zaitsev with a real stinker of a pass to Mitch Marner early in this game. You want to know why he’s so bad at outlet passes? It’s because in the KHL he was a modern, puck carrying defenceman who never made big, long passes. He carried it up the ice.

The Nazem Kadri line with chances! Do my eyes deceive me? Both Brown and Kadri get a shot because, honestly, Olli Maatta is really not very good. I’m so glad the Leafs got Kasperi Kapanen, not him.

Fourth line action with Jake Gardiner and Tyler Ennis switching spots to do a pinch and a cover the right way. Good shift.

Lots of good pace to start.

[15:00 - 10:00]

The Tavares line is getting stymied a lot, but the Matthews line seems to be more effective at gaining the zone. I agree with Dave Poulin (I know, I know), but the Kadri line are the key to this game for the Leafs.

John Tavares is good at hockey, don’t know if you knew.

You know, I love Kappy, but sometimes his “hit the brakes and then look for a pass” move fails because he’s standing still and can’t find a good pass. You know who moves the puck into passing position? Yeah, you do. (There are two right answers to this.)

Ennis and Frederik Gauthier with a break on a steal of the puck and somehow, that ends up offside because Gauthier was too quick. The fact they were out vs the Malkin line makes the escape itself good enough.

[10:00 - 05:00]

Another Kadri line shift in the offensive zone, but no one was exactly in a hurry to drive the net. Also, Lindholm has the ugliest skating stride on the team. He’s not slow, though, so who cares?

Andersen with an easy save or two, and there’s not much shooting through traffic.

The Leafs get a dumb too many men penalty. Shouldn’t they all know how to do line chances by now? To the PK, we go.

Well that went badly. Right before this all happened, Ray Ferraro talked about how calm Andersen looked, and he sure looked calm on this goal.

1-0 Penguins

The Toronto Maple Leafs really believe that the first thing you do to prepare to climb a hill is dig a hole.

Really dreadful shift by the Matthews line that starts with a bad pass from Zaitsev and ends with a bad shot by Kapanen.

The Tavares line plus Ozhiganov really tests Murray and gets the crowd into the game.

[5:00 - 00:00]

The Leafs fourth line shows how important it is to play well without the puck when you play really badly with it. They were out against the Crosby line though and got zone time and a couple of shots, and that’s mildly amazing.

Andersen very calmly makes a stop on a Letang shot.

Murray makes a hard save on Tavares, and the rebound goes untouched between Hyman’s feet, or that was a goal.

The stretch pass haters won’t like this game as there has been a bunch of them that failed.

With only a few seconds left Hyman takes an errant stick up under the visor. Very scary looking, but hopefully just a cut. Fans aren’t happy that there is no penalty.

Numbers

Tavares and Kadri’s line (finally) with some chances.
moneypuck.com

Thoughts

  • The fourth line keeps passing the eye-test tonight, and they play low-risk hockey and aren’t likely to score much, but I’m not sure that’s terrible.
  • The Tavares line is getting the meaningful pressure, while the Kadri line is in the offensive zone more doing their forechecking.
  • Kadri has a 93% Corsi For, but only that small amount of xGF above to show for it. Yes, I’m obsessed by this.
  • The Matthews line looks like two busy but not very effective guys and Patrick Marleau. They got caved in hard in shots after their very early success.
  • Ozzie looks good again tonight, but I’d look good playing defence behind Kadri tonight.

Second Period

[20:00 - 15:00]

No Hyman at the start of the period.

Nice long set of offensive pressure from the Matthews line.

Kadri comes out on Tavares’s wing. And it’s Ron Hainsey with the great chance off their work. As expected.

Gauthier with a weak shot on a good chance. The fourth line is very good tonight, but they don’t look dangerous with their shooting, but really, who cares?

Hyman is back! The cut is above his right eye. Scary, scary stuff. Unfortunately not through the eyebrow to give him a cool Yzerman scar.

Wow is he ever back! Murray has to make a really tough save on Hyman in tight.

[15:00 - 10:00]

The Gauthier line finally gets some actual defensive zone work, and they’re okay. Is that the first save from Andersen? Maybe the second of this period.

So glad Murray picked tonight to get over whatever has made him one of the worst goalies in the NHL so far.

Murray down and out, and it’s Gauthier hacking at the puck in tight, so... This is incredible pressure from these guys, though. Ennis and Leivo work well together. They seem to divide up the ice well and always have someone driving the net.

Hyman takes a penalty for something. Highsticking himself earlier? Not sure.

To the PK we go. Try to be less calm, Freddie.

Lindholm earning his pay with a clean faceoff win to start the PK. Nice disruptive PK here. The Penguins are not getting set up at all.

Whoa-ho-ho. Matt Murray plays the puck just over the goal line in no-no land, and now it’s four-on-four.

Kapanen bobbles the puck on a centering pass, and then the Leafs have Crosby bearing down, but he looks a bit uninspired.

[10:00 - 05:00]

The Leafs get their first power play of just over one minute. A bad Kadri pass borks the setup, but they eventually get back at it. Penguins with the perfect disruptive PK on the scary Leafs first unit and it’s no goal this time.

Okay I’m starting to hate the stretch passes in this game even if the Penguins are a good team to use it against. Icing, icing, icing. Boring, boring, boring.

The Matthews line gets some Penguins depth to try their luck against, and well. It’s not his night, and he can’t gain the zone against Matt Cullen.

[5:00 - 00:00]

Kadri with a forward rush, and he passes it to Lindholm who can only take a wild backhand that’s way wide.

Every so often, Zaitsev plays a shift so violently dirty, you wonder how he isn’t always in the box. Innocent face, I guess. He gets away with some stuff, but the Penguins are pushing the play back at the Leafs.

Jack Johnson offensively vs Ron Hainsey. How much do tickets cost? For all of that, this is the Penguins best few minutes of play this period.

The Kadri line nearly finish out the period with a lot of pressure and ... guess? No chances of a serious nature. Lots of shots wide. Tavares comes out for a few seconds and Murray is instantly under threat.

Numbers

First it was all Leafs, and then it was not.

Thoughts

  • I was running through the seven-game stats, and I declared Gauthier as Matt Martin with all the offensive ability stripped away along with the fighting ability. He might be eroding that assessment tonight.
  • I don’t think the Leafs should look this able defensively against the Penguins. I feel like they have another gear to bring to bear, and the Leafs better be ready.
  • Auston Matthews is getting rolled by Sidney Crosby.

Third Period

[20:00 - 15:00]

Kadri starting this period against Crosby.

And then Matthews has Marner with him, not Kapanen, and they get some zone time.

Gauthier, man. He just does the dumbest stuff sometimes. Ennis bails him out on an offensive zone turnover after Letang outplays Gauthier pretty easily.

More good Kadri line zone time.

[15:00 - 10:00]

This game is now an irritating battle along the boards with few shots. I want Ozhiganov to score to liven it up.

Dermot stripping the puck off of Crosby will have to do for excitement.

Marner is out with the fourth line, taking Leivo’s spot for a good part of the shift. Gauthier looked lost when Ennis seamlessly switched to real hockey.

The Penguins pressure hard again, and the Leafs need a game-breaker move from a game-breaking player to tie this up.

[10:00 - 05:00]

Murray, my goodness. He takes two great chances away from Kadri’s line. They’ve upped the danger of their offence considerably in this period.

The Penguins, who are ahead, are the team shortening their bench. The Leafs can’t because the bottom six is where it’s all coming from. Kadri with an excellent chance to emphasize that.

[5:00 - 00:00]

Honestly, I want to see Marner playing with Kadri right now, but he and the Tavares line sparkle with some good offence, and Dermott has a great chance.

Dermott keeps the play alive on a change, one on five.

Matthews on a rush, but Dumoulin has his stick on the puck right away. That’s close to his best offensive play all game.

Andersen is out with just under three minutes to go.

Rielly is a horse on this six-on-five, but eventually, the Penguins get it to bounce towards the empty net by letting Kadri bounce it off one of his own players and in. Well, he was due a goal.

2-0 Penguins

Matthews with a good shot on net, but Murray is saving everything tonight. There’s a goal review though. But it’s not going to be overturned and called a goal since the puck can’t be seen to cross the line.

Babcock gets some mic time, he’s yelling for the fucking ref so fucking loudly. Loosely paraphrased.

And then it’s another ENG for the Penguins, and this one’s done. 3-0 for the guys with all those cup rings. Boooo.

Numbers

moneypuck.com

Kadri really had the best night of all, but his wingers are way too far up that list in the small chances zone. The Penguins simply outplayed the Leafs when it counted.

Thoughts

  • I pity the St. Louis Blues on Saturday. Auston Matthews is never fun when he’s had a terrible game the time before.
  • The top half of the Leafs roster did not shine, barring some intermittent sparkle from John Tavares and co.
  • If Kadri had gotten lucky on a shot at his own net, this might have been a steal of a game, but I don’t like how little support he gets. Dermott was his best winger tonight.