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This is now an Alexandar Georgiev Blog (Rangers 2 - Leafs 1)

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The Bulgarian Beast stymies the Leafs again

NHL: New York Rangers at Toronto Maple Leafs Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

First Period

  • [19:02] Early on, Nylander prevents the Rangers from breaking out, with the puck falling to Johnsson in the slot. He finds Matthews, who doesn’t get all of it, but forces a good save from Alexandar Georgiev.
  • [18:32] The Leafs are facing a young and defensively weak Rangers team, so hopefully we see more of that.
  • [18:11] Kasperi Kapanen misses the puck in his own zone and instead trips Lias Andersson (one of the Rangers’ star prospects) so New York goes to the power play early.
  • [17:07] Marner gets a 2-on-1 with Connor Brown on the penalty kill, but Mika Zibanejad makes a great play to break it up. As it goes the other way, Andersen is forced to make an outstanding save in tight, and a clearing attempt from Ron Hainsey almost Toskala’s Georgiev. The Rangers get whistled for too many men in the meantime. Whew... a lot going on there.
  • [14:51] The Leafs aren’t able to get too much going on in their section of the power play.
  • [14:15] After the power play ends, a Johnsson-Marleau-Nylander line gets some zone time and a couple decent chances, with Holl and Muzzin behind them. Nylander runs some clever and casual interference to free up Marleau for a wrap around slot shot.
  • [12:56] Kapanen pilfers the puck in the neutral zone, skates into the offensive zone and wires a wrister that Georgiev saves. I’d like to see Kapanen pull up and try and pass to a teammate for a better opportunity.
  • [12:09] Nylander gets a shift with Kadri and Marleau, and I’m not sure why. Also, the defense is in the typical ‘never play Ozhiganov and Holl together’ state of flux.
  • [9:43] Appears to be a temporary shift, as Nylander is back with Matthews and Johnsson the next time around. A couple lazy plays in the defensive zone by Matthews and Nylander lead to an unproductive shift, but no dangerous chances against.
  • [7:38] Zaitsev does an excellent job of taking away all options from Brendan Lemieux as the Ranger bears down on him with the puck in the Leafs zone. The Leafs eventually force a faceoff out of it... nice play by Z.
  • [7:02] The Leafs have had the better of the game so far, but the Zibanejad line is causing danger, as we would expect.
  • [3:43] Anecdotally, this seems like a sloppy game on both ends. Lots of missed passes and overskating the puck.
  • [1:18] Brett Howden cross-checks Trevor Moore, and the Leafs get a late period power play.
  • [0:00] The Leafs second power play is dominant, with the first unit doing everything but scoring. Alas, scoring is the most important part, so we exit the first period with the score tied at 0.

Second Period

  • [19:18] The top unit picks up where they left off, but still can’t break through Georgiev.
  • [19:07] Kapanen gets set up in the slot beautifully by .... Freddie Gauthier? I’m as shocked as you are. Once again, Georgiev makes the save.
  • [17:22] After a strong start for the Leafs, they’ve really slowed down... the Rangers have gotten a pretty even share of the 5v5 chances.
  • [15:04] Marner creates something out of nothing, walking in off the boards and creating a goalmouth scramble that Hyman is stymied on. Great shift for the Tavares line as a whole.
  • [13:12] This is followed by relatively strong shifts by the Matthews and Kadri lines, which is always good to see. Still no goals, and the Leafs are certainly giving the Rangers their share of opportunities too.
  • [12:32] Ozhiganov trips a Ranger (pretty soft call) so New York goes to the power play.
  • [10:44] The Leafs penalty kill (which has looked excellent to my eye in the last few games) performs admirably.
  • [8:40] Marner nearly makes a beauty of a toe-drag to get a clean look in tight, but it doesn’t quite come off. Still, he’s been really strong on the puck tonight.
  • [7:26] Holl and Ozhiganov have zero ability to challenge their blueline. They just retreat until the top of the circles.... its maddening, especially in games where the Leafs are turning the puck over in the neutral zone, which they are tonight.
  • [6:49] Brown takes a hooking penalty.
  • [4:49] Once again, the Leafs penalty kill does a good job, though they’re aided by some poor decision making and sloppiness on the part of the Rangers.
  • [3:37] Matthews does two laps in the offensive zone, but the Rangers pack the front of the net so his shot can’t get past the defenders.
  • [1:51] Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich have a 2-on-0 somehow, and don’t generate a shot. Massive let-off for the Leafs. Nikita Zaitsev is breathing a huge sigh of relief.
  • [0:00] Another scoreless period, and one that was generally rather strong for the Leafs. The Tavares line created tons of chances, as did Auston Matthews, mostly by himself. On the defence side of things, I’ve liked what Rielly has done in terms of being active as a puck carrier, and as a whole, the Leafs really limited the Rangers in the second, though a great deal of that was due to the Rangers’ own ineptitude.

Third Period

  • [19:41] Ugh, Rangers score. Pavel Buchnevich finds a loose puck in front and fires it by Andersen. As expected, it’s the Zibanejad line that eventually does it. 1-0 Rangers.
  • [18:30] The Matthews line has another strong shift, and honestly, it’s been almost ALL Matthews for that line. I don’t think Nylander and Johnsson have been bad, but Matthews has done just about everything.
  • [17:35] The Leafs 4th line dominates a shift after Brett Howden gets hurt blocking a shot.
  • [17:14] This is one of Rielly’s most active offensive games in a while, which is saying something. He’s buzzing.
  • [16:33] Aside from the goal, which was a bit of a car crash in front, the Leafs have controlled this period. Of course, with score effects, we’d hope that this is the case.
  • [15:15] Seriously, this is absurd now. Johnsson just misses with a high tip, and then Georgiev saves a Matthews tip from right in front.
  • [14:14] The Leafs top two lines are just having their way with the Rangers now, but the puck just isn’t going in. The Leafs are missing the net a lot, the Rangers are blocking the puck a lot, and Georgiev is saving everything else.
  • [11:27] Leafs score! And it’s Zach Hyman who does it, off a beauty of a feed from John Tavares. The play starts with a Morgan Rielly Rush. He gains the zone and puts a backhand on net. It bounces to the slot, right on the stick of Tavares, who finds Hyman with an empty net. 1-1 game.
  • [11:27] That was a goal that rewarded the players who have been really good tonight. Rielly and the Tavares line have been superlative. A Matthews goal would continue that trend.
  • [10:40] Georgiev stones Nylander from about a foot away from the net after a great pass from Matthews. Earlier on in that shift, Rielly and Nylander combined brilliantly to exit the zone with control. Rielly has been as good as I’ve ever seen him. Can’t say enough about his night. This is peak Rielly.
  • [8:46] The Tavares line absolutely dummies the Rangers, and Marc Staal absolutely clobbers him with a cross-check (which gets called). Tavares is clearly in pain... the fact that he’s staying in the game is example 912591985 that hockey players are not human.
  • [8:05] The second unit power play starts, and does not do much.
  • [7:18] Marner sets up Tavares in front, who hits the post. Kadri is totally robbed on the rebound.
  • [6:29] The power play ends, and much like the earlier power plays, the Leafs generated a lot of chances, but couldn’t get the puck in.
  • [4:57] Some nice forechecking by Nylander pokes the puck to Matthews, who makes a great pass to Johnsson. Say it with me. Georgiev makes the save.
  • [2:06] Johnsson sets up Nylander for two shots, both of which are saved. There are a couple non-calls on the Rangers... Refs are letting them play.
  • [0:00] We’re off to OT. It’s hard to overstate how dominant the Leafs have been over the last two periods. The top two lines have completely owned the Rangers, as has Rielly. The Rangers aren’t a good team, but the Leafs have massacred them for the majority of this game, to the tune of 5 (FIVE) expected goals, 4 of them at even strength. Absurd. The Leafs defense wasn’t always amazing, but when you generate offense like that, it doesn’t need to be.

Overtime

I always struggle to recap overtimes... they’re madness. But basically, a bunch of stuff nearly happens. Matthews has a partial break, but Georgiev poke checks him. Nylander gets a shot off on a 2-on-1, but it’s saved again. As the puck goes the other way, Andersen makes a ridiculous save on Boo Nieves, but the puck finds its way to Ryan Strome, who pokes it home for the game winner. Rangers win 2-1.