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Recap: Maple Leafs take Columbus to OT and lose on a penalty shot

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The offensively blunted Blue Jackets and the defensively suspect Maple Leafs cancelled each other out for most of the game, and one bad decision under pressure decided the game.

Columbus Blue Jackets v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Game time! The Blue Jackets are here, who we remember from last time are a good team with experimental goaltending.

First Period

I really don’t get the giddy excitement about Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews playing on a line together. It’s neither a good nor bad choice with John Tavares out, but if it thrills you, okay. Will someone actually get third-line centre minutes is a more interesting question with cuts on the horizon.

Goodness! Jason Spezza looking good in his first shift, speaking of the 3C, and he draws a penaltly.

Huh. So how about that new power play, eh?

1-0 Columbus

If I was feeling kind, I’d say Marner was so busy overthinking the power play entry troubles, he forgot what he was actually doing, but I’m not feeling kind because I had to sit through that asinine montage of “not starting on time” goals. Timing always means something. And nothing isn’t deeply significant.

Back to the power play.

I don’t hate it. Let’s have a few more goes to see if having a right-shooter in the bumper is working.

Ohhhhh okay. I get it now. Matthews plus Marner is giddy-making because it means they can see each other be desperately bad right up close at all times!

2-0 Columbus

If I was feeling kind... you know, I’m not, and most of the wittering on by the Overdrive types about Matthews not being tough enough for them is as annoying as that start on time nonsense, but there is truth in the criticism that his defensive zone play looks like something that would get you scratched on the Marlies.

Play of the period:

The Leafs have some good offence going, but Andreas Johnsson takes a lazy slashing call for his third of the season already. You’d think he’d learn, and yet...

So, naturally the Leafs score a shorty. You saw that coming, right?

2-1 Columbus

Marner earns some redemption on the setup to Kapanen.

Kapanen draws a penalty by skating dramatically faster than a defender, who resorts to a hook. No penalty shot, but that’s okay, the way this game’s going, he’d score it on the wrong net.

That edition of the Leafs new power play had everything but a goal, and so far so good on Nylander in the middle (he looked a little unsure some of the time).

OH YEAH, BABY, that was a hell of a way to end the period on time!

The Leafs suddenly click on everything from the takeaway by Matthews right up to the gorgeous pass by Johnsson to Matthews to tie this stupid game back up. I like these guys again.

2-2 tie

There is immediately a tripping call on Kerfoot but the Columbus power play has the night off and that’s it for this period.

Thoughts

  • Hockey is stupid, let no one tell you otherwise
  • I did a really cheap and lazy analysis of the top 95 forwards in the NHL, the real first liners. I wanted to know how many of them are actually even above average defensively. The answer is 25% or so. And for significantly gifted it’s about 15%. So it’s not fair to expect Matthews to be Sean Couturier. It is fair to expect him to be basically competent most of the time.
  • Marner spent half that period flubbing passes and the other half playing really well.

Second Period

Columbus opens the second with a better version of their power play for the remaining time and they hem the Leafs in hard. The Leafs get stuck out post-PK and Marner takes another penalty.

Suddenly the Leafs PK is excellent again, and Columbus gets no zone time far less chances.

Kerfoot, Marner and Mikheyev lay on the pressure, now that the Leafs can finally play some offence.

Dmytro Timashov gets a chance on a great fourth line shift.

Spezza gives the puck away and trips the guy he gave it to, to save himself. Which Columbus power play will we get?

I’m calling it just a really good PK by the Leafs, and now it’s past time for the Leafs offence to get rewarded at five-on-five.

The Leafs get hemmed in post PK with a half-changed lineup, but they survive this time.

The Leafs are playing really well. Mostly. And then there’s four Blue Jackets rolling in on the Leafs defenders, and... all the forwards are changing. (Matthews line, all of them.)

The Leafs spend the last five minutes of the period trying to make as many goofy mistakes as they can. Jake Muzzin gets away with shoving the net off in the final minute while they’re yakety sax defending.

So, naturally, and I did almost see this coming, it’s been that kind of game, the Leafs score.

Lunch bucket goal built out of some hard work on the puck while Nylander plants himself where he knows the puck is going to be once Matthews gets it to him.

3-2 Maple Leafs

Thoughts

  • Off the PK, the Leafs were really good in this one.
  • The Blue Jackets disrupt the Leafs flow really well, but they don’t generate anything.
  • Patience finally paid off and the Leafs have a deserved lead after two periods.
  • The bottom six are sharing their ice time evenly, and Kerfoot is playing about third line minutes. So tonight’s version of the Leafs has no second line. Kerfoot is great on Corsi and horrible on Expected Goals, based on xGA.
  • Matthews playing huge time.
  • The Marner-Matthews experiment ended in the first tonight.

Third Period

The Leafs are disrupting the Blue Jackets while getting no offence, like they switched jerseys in the intermission. Which would be great if the Leafs had a two-goal lead. The teams are about even in Expected Goals at five-on-five, and it’s a low number. This hasn’t been fire-wagon hockey.

Oh, good. Gauthier takes a tripping penalty, so we get to see the thing the Leafs have done best this game, the PK.

It was going really well until Morgan Rielly is taken out with a shot block and that opens up a hole that Columbus makes no mistake in finding.

Tie Game 3-3

With their best offensive push of the game this period, the Blue Jackets hem in the Leafs, who ice the puck.

The net pops off behind Andersen, and Cam Atkinson puts it back since the Blue Jackets have the puck.

Nice scrappy-doo shift from Moore and Kapanen that almost ends in a goal when Matthews rolls out on the change.

And now the first intentional Matthews-Marner shift since the first ends in an Atkinson breakaway that Andersen makes a heroic save on. (Not actually the fault of the line combination.)

Frederik Gauthier is taking so much abuse in the offensive zone in this game, it’s not funny. He’s been dumped on his ass six times this period.

And it’s to overtime we go.

Overtime

Dubois with the first shot and Andersen has the save. Babcock went with a “defensive” trio off the drop, and I hate that in OT. It might be smart, and I still hate it.

Matthews dominating in his shift, but they don’t change as Columbus comes back.

Andersen makes a save, and then another, and then no!!!

Mitch Marner covered the puck in the crease, so there’s a penalty shot, and that’s the game because Gustav Nyquist in a Blue Jacket now.

4-3 Columbus

Thoughts

  • This game looked like the second half of a back-to-back, particularly the turgid third period.
  • There is a little bit of saving Kerfoot for tomorrow going on here too.
  • I don’t think the Leafs would have taken this game to overtime with Hutchinson in net. But I sure hope they get more than one point out of this pair of games.

I went with the play-by-play explanation, but maybe this is right? I have no idea.