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Recap: Leafs keep scoring even when the Penguins ask them nicely to stop, take it 5-2

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The Leafs just popped one goal after another in the net, barely bothering to ever take a shot in between.

Pittsburgh Penguins v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

With Nikita Zaitsev out with the ‘flu, the lines looked like this:

First Period

[20:00-15:00]

I’m tired of, “Is Freddie tired?” takes.

William Nylander vs Evgeni Malkin goes how you’d figure. At least at first. But it’s actually the Leafs defenders who are up against it as Jake Guentzel nearly scores.

Next time the Leafs have four days off, they should have to play the Marlies on an off day to keep in shape.

Frederik Andersen is making save after save, not too difficult until he’s left hanging when Morgan Rielly loses his stick to Patric Hornqvist.

Oh, cool, after that, Leo Komarov takes a weak hooking call, and the Penguins get even more of an advantage.

Two good full-ice clears by the Leafs kill the first thirty seconds of it. Andersen eats a few seconds with a save. Kasperi Kapanen’s speed kills some more seconds. Tomas Plekanec clears to make the first minute a memory. A ponderous setup by the Penguins ditches half the remaining time. Ron Hainsey blocks a shot, and that’s the scary Penguin power play eaten up. Good team effort.

[15:00-10:00]

Oh, man, Mitch Marner with a good chance on Tristan Jarry, who is in for the still-injured Matt Murray. Is that the Leafs first shot? I think it is.

Leafs are gradually starting to look like they have, in fact, played hockey before.

Josh Leivo! I know Kappy gets the goal, but Leivo makes the play by holding the puck in at the blueline, and then he just punts the puck from behind the net to Tyler Bozak who no-doubts it to Kappy for the goal. 1-0 Leafs. (Seriously, I’m no Leivo stan, but he should get three assists for that.)

[10:00-5:00]

On the replay, it’s obvious that the Penguins, in a very Leafs-like move, left Kapanen totally unchecked to wander into scoring position. I know he looks a lot like Olli Maatta, but he is wearing blue.

Awww. Special Scott and Tessa jerseys from Darryl Sittler. Now, get Scott a beer for the next penalty call.

Plekanec with a sweet centering pass that comes to naught. He and Kapanen are getting the hang of playing together.

Nazem Kadri with a deflected cross-ice offensive zone pass, and it’s Hainsey with the save at the other end.

If the Penguins want a track meet, I’ll put 10 bucks down on the Leafs.

Roman Polak lays a clean hit on Sidney Crosby, and you know, I’m fine with that. On the other hand, leaving sleeping Sids lie is also a good idea. Malkin’s line looks much more dangerous.

[5:00-0:00]

Travis Dermott takes the puck from Phil Kessel. Heh.

Connor Carrick wants to watch the Penguin’s power play. He’s off for a dumb holding penalty because that giant Carl Hagelin is too much form him behind the Leafs net.

Komarov with a great shorty chance that eats huge time, as does a Hainsey clear. Kapanen with a chance, and I LOVE him on the PK. Sheldon Keefe’s PK school seems to be top-notch. The Penguins struggle to get set up again, and their power play is lethal once it’s in place, but they don’t set up well. And the power play limps to a conclusion with the Leafs having the most of the puck time.

Oh, well now. I thought we were just running the clock, but no. The Leafs maintain pressure, and Kadri both forechecks the puck loose and tips a Rielly shot. 2-0 Leafs.

Thoughts

The Leafs can win when they get outshot, the broadcast says, and yup, they can. They seem to be doing it. It won’t always work, however. After the first few minutes, this doesn’t look bad, though:

Second Period

[20:00-15:00]

Second big ice-fixing delay starts the period and finally we’re a go.

Andersen went awandering, and almost paid the price.

I said they should get Scott Moir a beer. Leafs take the third straight penalty when Marleau stick-checks a guy and gets called for hooking.

Two-on-one shorty chance from Hyman and Plekanec is entertaining. Pleky has the wheels for the Leafs, I think.

Andersen does a little work, then Brown gets it deep with some work of his own, and the Leafs are three for three at killing off the penalties.

[15:00-10:00]

The teams trade transitions and again, if the Penguins want to play a speed and endurance game, the Leafs can win it.

Andersen does a little work, not anything tough, and the Leafs can just get over the Penguins blueline, but no farther.

Kapanen tries the epic stretch pass to Plekanec, but it doesn’t quite work.

Bozak hot-potatoes the puck in the defensive zone slot, but Pittsburgh don’t do much with it when they have it.

[10:00-5:00]

Okay, so the period is half over, the Leafs have one Corsi For in the period, and yet, the Penguins are not looking threatening at all. They look like the Habs: all Corsi, no scoring.

OMG! The Penguins take a penalty. Do the Leafs remember how to play on the power play?

Mitch! Marner! Okay, he didn’t get the goal, but he made it happen with some help from a great Rielly pass. Kadri with the goal, and it is 3-0 Leafs.

So who needs Corsi? I won’t say no to a Kadri hat trick though.

Andersen with a good save on a medium good Kessel shot.

[5:00-0:00]

Leafs finally show some actual offensive chops, and Kadri sets up Komarov for a tip that doesn’t quite go in.

Polak discusses mass and velocity with Malkin so they get some penalty box time to get into it a little deeper.

Leafs just take it to the Penguins at four-on-four. Wow.

Awesome chance from Dermott as he roars into the slot.

Dammit. Dammit. Andersen nearly gets it, but Dumolin stuffs it in. WOW!! Dumolin gets two for goalie interference instead of a goal. WOW. He elbows Andersen in the head before he stuffs it in, yes, but this never gets called. No one really understands goalie interference.

Now it’s a power play for the Leafs. Or is it? The zebras are having such a long discussion after listening to the Penguins’ complaints that I feel like I’m watching the KHL. Nope, they talked, but no change in the call. No goal in the first place, nothing to challenge.

Mitch! Marner! Okay, this one is a funky deflection that didn’t need a James van Riemsdyk tip, but his stick was right there and ready. 4-0 Leafs.

Anger rating on the Pittsburgh bench is off the charts.

The Penguins have a flurry of offensive zone time marked by total ineptitude. The horn ends that.

Thoughts

Ah hahahah ahaha

So how’s that right-shooting D depth working out, Leafs?

Third Period

[20:00-15:00]

Casey DeSmith is in for the third period for the Penguins.

Ping! Marner gets a post.

The Leafs are getting a lot of zone time, broken up by the occasional Pittsburgh rush. The game has been flipped.

Pittsburgh almost suffers an own-goal on a funky deflection.

Nylander’s line suffers a heavy Crosby shift where they simply cannot get out of the zone.

[15:00-10:00]

Andersen makes a good save on a screened shot, and he’s working harder in the second half of the game than he did in the first.

At this point in the game, however expected goals (moneypuck.com version) favour the Leafs just a touch when you look at all situations. Considering the imbalance in penalty minutes, that says a lot for the Leafs PK. But at five-on-five the Penguins definitely are controlling the play.

Leafs are just golfing the puck out from inside their own blueline. Harrying the Penguins in the neutral zone and running the clock.

[10:00-5:00]

While the Penguins are ringing the puck around the Leafs zone but never getting a chance on net, I’ll take this time to point out that Plekanec has been great this game, doing what he needs to do, and so has Kappy. Komarov was well-placed up the lineup with Kadri. Nylnader looks bad by the CF% against mostly Malkin, but, uh, Sid would look bad vs Malkin, you know?

But on the defensive end, this team really struggles massively to replace any D on the right side. If a lefty is out, some careful use of Dermott can fill the hole, but for all Roman Polak was pretty good tonight, Connor Carrick is just not a top four guy against a good team. And he wasn’t really played as one despite what that lineup says up top. Gardiner got caved in hard in huge minutes, Hainsey played way too much, and Carrick and Dermott played less than Polak usually does.

[5:00-0:00]

The defensive strategy for the Leafs in the dying minutes is mostly “We have a goalie”.

It works until it doesn’t. Crosby picks up the puck, goes kind of one-on-four out to the slot and the Crosby backhand will kill you: 4-1 Leafs.

It got a little help from a Leafs stick.

The Penguins pull the goalie with almost four minutes left, and why not, but the Leafs nearly put it in.

With the net empty again, and the Penguins on an effective power play where the Leafs can’t ice the puck, Hornqvist tips in another, and it’s 4-2 Leafs.

Beautiful tip.

The Penguins take a timeout which lets them keep their killer power play unit out for the rest of the game.

But it’s the Leafs that get the puck, but no one can get off a shot.

The big Penguins unit goes off, and Marleau gets the puck and throws it in the open net, 5-2 Leafs.

And that’s the final score as the Leafs send the Penguins away perhaps a little perplexed as to why they lost it.