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Recap: Leafs beat the Senators 5-4 in a weird, sloppy game

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The Leafs looked great, then bad, then bad some more, then great again, then bad again, and somehow they won.

Ottawa Senators v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

No more contract talks (except the intermissions, I assume). Let’s watch some hockey!

FIRST PERIOD

Oh hey it’s a Bob Cole game!

Early on it’s all Leafs swarming in the Sens’ zone. When the Sens clear it, the Leafs immediately push it back up ice. They’re flying in the first five minutes. Matthews and Kappy in particular were all over the Sens defense.

At around the 7 minute mark they almost broke through. Kadri with the nifty neutral zone pass to spring Nylander who got a good shot on net, and on the rebound made a great pass to Kadri in the slot. Anderson had to make a great save to keep the game scoreless.

Right after that we have our first goal! Tavares had his own nifty neutral zone pass to spring Marner and Hyman on a 2 on 1. Marner did that Mitch Thang and fed Hyman with an easy tap in goal. 1-0 Leafs!

Bad news for the Leafs after the goal, as Muzzin got hit in the head on a rush chance by Chabot. He went to the room for the concussion protocol, presumably. Hopefully he’s okay. After that the Sens finally have their own offensive push, with Andersen having to make a good stop on a 2 on 1.

We got a nice little moment to honour Bob Cole’s career. He might not be what he was in his prime anymore, but it’s great to hear him one last time. The Leafs seemed to have gotten bored or slowed their pace, and the Sens are starting to get more shots and chances. I was about to say it will help now that Muzzin just got back on the bench, but then Paajarvi was sprung on a partial breakaway after a brutal change by the Leafs, and he wired it past Andersen for the tying goal. 1-1 tie game.

First Period Thoughts

The Leafs were dominant in the first half, and the Matthews line were the standouts as far as possession and scoring chances go. But they let Ottawa back in the game in the last 5 minutes of the period. You can see exactly when it got away from them:

SECOND PERIOD

Let’s start this period the same way they did the first period eh?

Welp, so much for that. A bit of a fluke play and the puck looks like it might have snuck through Andersen’s legs. The refs are reviewing it and it JUUUUUUUUUUUUUUST didn’t go in. A scare early on for the Leafs. Start dominating again please.

Nope. This time the Leafs do give up the goal, with Duchene beating a sprawling Andersen after the puck bounced off of Zaitsev’s face in front. 2-1 Sens.

START. PLAYING. HOCKEY. AGAIN. To their credit, they had two straight shifts from the Kadri and Gauthier line, hemming Ottawa in the entire time. Unfortunately Gardiner took a high sticking penalty and now the Leafs are going to have to kill a four minute PP to keep the Sens lead at one goal. Except for one chance by Chabot, they kill off the first two minutes pretty easily (aw fuck I jinxed it didn’t I?). Nope! The Sens did get one more good chance, but the Leafs followed with a 2 on 1 that Lindholm sorta botched. But their PK came through pretty great there.

What the hell did I just watch. Freddie just put his best imitation of Hasek’s lovechild with a Whacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man and somehow the Senators don’t score.

Oh, a goal! The Sens were still taking the play to the Leafs and then with the fourth line on, Johnsson picks Ceci’s pocket in front and scores a goal in the blink of an eye. 2-2 tie game!

ANOTHER ONE! Not long after Matthews basically willed the puck through the Sens’ defense and roofed it past Anderson for the 3-2 Leafs lead!

WHEN IT RAINS IT POURS! Maybe the funniest goal I’ve seen all year, the Sens catch a break and are on a 3 on 1, but Duchene whiffs on pass completely and Marner comes back on their on 3 on 1, maybe even a 4 on 1. Marner destroyed Ben Harpur’s soul with a dangle and passed to Tavares for the easy tap in. 4-2 Leafs!

All these goals have gone to the Leafs’ legs and they closed out the period on the same sort of dominant run they had to start the game.

Second Period Thoughts

A reverse of the first period. They played the first half of it looking awful (except the penalty kill), then flipped a switch, got some bounces and in the blink of an eye they scored three goals and took the lead. The Tavares line led the way for the Leafs, where the Matthews’ line (aside from the goal) got murdered in possession after being their best line the first period.

THIRD PERIOD

We’re back for the final period, and within the first minute the Leafs have a brutal breakdown and Chabot picked the puck up in the slot and put it through Andersen’s five hole. 4-3 Leafs.

Wake up call? Well they had one good shift with the Kadri - Nylander line, but right after that the Matthews’ line all got caught watching the puck in front of the net and Paajarvi had the easy tap in for the goal. Brutal defense by Rielly and Matthews. 4-4 tie game.

To paraphrase Zap Brannigan... “STOP ALLOWING GOALS YOU COWARDS!”

My stirring inspirational speech seemed to do the trick! Rielly stole the puck in the Leafs’ end and raced up ice with Hyman. After a great give and go, Hyman made a great backhand pass to Rielly for the tap in. That’s Rielly’s career best in points with 53, and it’s now 5-4 Leafs!

Now the Leafs are getting their first PP of the game after a holding call on Borowiecki. Marner had a great chance on a one timer in the slot, but Anderson made the save. After killing off the penalty the Sens come close to tying it up after the Leafs try to recreate the Yakety Sax moment from earlier in the game in front of Andersen.

The Sens make the traditional late push with the goalie pulled, and while the Leafs looked like ass in their own end and failed to clear it a couple of times they held onto the lead and got the two points in regulation. Leafs win!

Final Thoughts

The Leafs got crushed in possession and scoring chances for most of the third period, and looked sloppy as all hell while Ottawa tied the game up. Their skill let them pull ahead for the narrow win, but it wasn’t pretty.