The Toronto Maple Leafs and the New York Islanders faced off for the first time this season, and it was in Toronto so John Tavares was spared his now annual brow beating by still angry Islanders fans.
Frederik Andersen had the night off and he spent his day with a kids team from Denmark, rather than napping and preparing.
Frederik Andersen signing a Rask jersey pic.twitter.com/xMuZziqjhR— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 5, 2020
The Maple Leafs began the game with some good back and forth play and Michael Hutchinson toss away pucks with ease.
Michael Hutchinson with the early stop off the activating D pic.twitter.com/bb157EKKv6— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 5, 2020
Martin Marincin shutting down Anthony Beauviller...and Justin Holl pic.twitter.com/bCyRGKtUeS— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 5, 2020
The crowd really gets on it’s feet for the first time, five minutes in, when William Nylander breaks out and almost scores...
John Tavares triggers the odd-man chance while William Nylander tries to go 5-hole Varlamov and tries to bat the rebound out of the air pic.twitter.com/tF4IzGEZ7B— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 5, 2020
The game isn’t this fast paced as that play, the Islanders are a Lou Lamoriello team after all. Both teams are doing a great job at keeping the other from getting a shot on net, and 15 minutes into the period the shot clocks are stuck at three apiece.
It’s a total of ten minutes without a damn shot on goal, but after that the Islanders put three on Hutch who turns them all away.
The pace kicks up a little with Leo Komarov chirping Mitch Marner and pasting him in ot the boards, then there’s almost a Leafs goal and hey maybe start the game playing like this, eh?
I don't know what angry-face Komarov was saying to Mitch, but the fact that he was laughing is hilarious pic.twitter.com/Nzk5RUDSk1— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 5, 2020
Mercifully, the first period did eventually end.
The second period begins with two quick chances for both teams; Jordan Eberle and Nick Leddy team up against Hutch while at the other end Tyson Barrie has a shot blocked by Scott Mayfield.
Hutchinson is doing his best to keep it even with a pair of saves pic.twitter.com/w4io8jJqBe— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 5, 2020
The offensive zone then gets clogged and the puck is stuck under some skates by the boards by the Leafs bench, and it goes on, and on, and on, and no whistle is blown, and what feels like an eternity later it’s freed and “play” resumes.
The refs let this play out for 15 seconds pic.twitter.com/YqQOEOuQVN— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 5, 2020
So it was fifteen seconds. Time is relative, you know?
Michael Hutchinson gets a standing ovation for making a great save on Josh Bailey who shoots as the Isles get a two on one play:
Michael Hutchinson with his best save of the game on Bailey pic.twitter.com/dBAfyC1Hhh— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 5, 2020
The Islanders are racking up the shots on Hutch, out shooting the Leafs 9-3 in the second period with eight minutes left.
John Tavares comes the closest the Leafs have been to scoring, but is foiled by former Oshawa Generals teammate Michael Dal Colle and Islanders net minder Semyon Varlamov.
Nylander sets up Tavares by the faceoff dot pic.twitter.com/yGDHt6d83n— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 5, 2020
The Maple Leafs get the first goal of the game, when Pierre Engvall gets his sixth goal of the season after Kasperi Kapanen sets him up for a beauty shot:
1-0 Leafs, despite being out shot 18-11.
Inspired by Engvall’s goal, the Leafs pick up their play and go on to double their lead when Auston Matthews scores his 28th of the season, closing the gap between him and David Pastrnak to three:
The Islanders decide that the way they want to score is jumping all over Hutchinson, and shoving the puck in with their hands. They fail at that. Cody Ceci gets called for the trip that started the whole play.
Everything went in accept for the puck pic.twitter.com/XJeYTHOVGQ— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 5, 2020
Mitch Marner and Zach Hyman try a short handed two on one, but Marner waits a little too long and loses the puck. The first minute of the PK is spent in the Islanders zone, so that’s okay.
Mitch Marner with the steal on the PK pic.twitter.com/xRqJd5mCA6— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 5, 2020
The penalty is killed, the period ends.
The Leafs lead 2-0 despite being out shot 23-13.
The third period picks up where the game was before the Leafs started scoring, with few events and a lot of big saves from Hutchinson.
Anders Lee came close on the rebound pic.twitter.com/VifUslA4LT— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 5, 2020
The Maple Leafs are trying their hardest to get the offense going, but the Islanders are doing a great job of keeping the shots away from the centre of the offensive zone and blocking them when the Leafs do get into position.
With the Islanders keeping a strong 10 shot lead on the Leafs they’ve been relying heavily on Michael Hutchinson to keep them in the game, and he’s been having the best game of his Leafs career.
The Maple Leafs continue to try and extend their lead, but they’re also working to keep up defensively for Hutch.
With two minutes to go the Islanders pull their goalie to get the extra man and trying to score at least one goal, but Zach Hyman gets away from the rest of the play and pots an empty net goal to make it 3-0.
The Islanders continue to put pressure on the Leafs, but none of it matters as the Leafs will win the game, and Hutchinson will get his shutout.
Final score: Maple Leafs 3 - New York Islanders 0
The next game is Monday night against the Edmonton Oilers.