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Leafs blow lead late, lose in overtime

You know, if you’re prone to giving up odd man rushes, maybe you shouldn’t be on the ice in overtime.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Montreal Canadiens
MONTREAL, QC - FEBRUARY 08: Victor Mete #53 of the Montreal Canadiens and John Tavares #91 of the Toronto Maple Leafs chase the puck during the first period at the Bell Centre on February 8, 2020 in Montreal, Canada.
Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

So that didn’t end the way we thought it would.

After a very positive game from the Maple Leafs through two periods, they found themselves ahead by a goal after John Tavares scored his 23rd of the season in his 800th career NHL game. But then, the Habs filled the Leafs with a dozen shots to end regulation, getting one goal and sending the game to overtime. Once there, a Tyson Barrie turnover gave the Habs a breakaway, which Ilya Kovalchuk converted on.

Jack Campbell made 29 saves in a really strong effort, he just didn’t get any support in the third period and overtime. When the game counted.

First Period

Auston Matthews was really strong to start the game. Almost despite his linemates, he was able to power through the Habs defense and get a couple really good chances for himself. Both Johnsson and Marner seemed to look really uncomfortable with the puck. They didn’t seem able to settle the puck down and create some space for themselves with their feet or body positioning.

Even defensively, Matthews intercepted a couple key passes in the top of the zone, getting the puck out very efficiently. Contrast that to Jake Muzzin giving the puck away within the first minutes after a really weak pass from along the wall to the middle of the blueline in his own zone.

I loved this pass from Timothy Liljegren.

Okay, so I was waiting for more to happen in that period, but apart from Muzzin headlocking Max Domi, it wasn’t very action-packed. It was a good period that I think the Leafs were able to build on.

One performance that I liked in particular was that of Liljegren. I found it funny that people wrote him off as a third pair guy last year, because right now he looks really solid. Poised with the puck, quick in a straight line, and really talented with his stick. He had a moment in his own zone when he tripped himself up, but he was able to get the puck out quite cleanly. He made that pass in the clip above that was really creative. And on the defensive end, his poise to retrieve loose pucks and push them up the ice in a safe way really stood out to me.

After One

This was a good first period from the Leafs, who out-shot the Habs 18-12 in terms of shot attempts. The two sides were tied in shots (7-7) and scoring chances (5-5). The Leafs got a couple good chances, but this wasn’t a period where they should’ve scored a couple times but failed to capitalize.

Second Period

Rasmus Sandin drew a slashing penalty on Jonathan Drouin, giving the Leafs a power play early in the second. The power play wasn’t that great; Tyson Barrie smashed a puck off the hand of Artturi Lehkonen and Matthews broke his stick on a slap shot. The second unit didn’t do much either.

The Habs came back after killing the penalty, forcing Jack Campbell to make a couple good saves in tight. As the game ebbed and flowed, the Leafs found their feet again and earned some sustained pressure in the Habs zone, forcing a couple icings and a good chance from John Tavares.

And as you’d expect after a power play, the refs gave Travis Dermott a pretty weak tripping penalty. The penalty killers were really good, starting with Marner and Zach Hyman wasting time in the offensive zone, then Pierre Engvall and Kasperi Kapanen forcing the puck to the corners of the point. Sandin and Muzzin each had a pretty important block, the latter of which seemed to sting Muzzin.

Dermott came out of the box and had the puck in the neutral zone while the Habs were changing. He passed to the limping Muzzin and ran off. I thought that was an incredibly dumb play, especially considering Dermott had the time and space to skate to Muzzin’s spot and let him get off. Instead, Muzzin couldn’t get the puck clear and had to defend for another minute, blocking another shot in his own zone.

After Two

You know your offense is bad when you make the Leafs defense look good. That’s what the Habs did in the second. They were on the power play for two minutes and 5v5 for 14. They only managed four shots throughout the entire frame. Meanwhile, the Leafs took two shots on their two power plays, and 14 in the whole period.

Shot share was 24-9 in the period, approximately 73%. Expected goals was also heavily in Toronto’s favour as they took a mountain of shots right in front of the net. Matthews, Tavares, and Jason Spezza each had two high-danger shot attempts after two periods.

Third Period

1-0

And for his 757th point in 800 games, John Tavares opened the scoring for the Leafs with an amazing shot from the faceoff dot, fed to him by Alex Kerfoot after Zach Hyman got them in the zone. Tavares now has 23 goals this season, including five in his past four games.

It was a really nice play that directly followed a strong save from Campbell. He made a right pad save, kicking the rebound right to his own guy for a quick breakout. The differential in manpower really gave the Leafs the edge at the other end of the ice. Tavares was not close to being covered when he took his shot.

The majority of the period after that consisted of the Habs in the Leafs zone looking for chances to score. Their best one came on the power play when Campbell had to make a toe save on Ilya Kovalchuk after coming across to his post to stop the one-timer. The Leafs did a great job to weather the storm and came out of it with the lead, despite giving up 11 straight shots.

1-1

With 2:33 left in the third, Marco Scandella took a point shot that squeaked through the five hole of Campbell, ruining the shutout and the lead. The Leafs didn’t take a single shot between the Tavares goal and this one, and it took them a couple shifts after this goal to get their offensive feet moving again.

After Three

This is my only takeaway. MY ONLY ONE!

Overtime

  • Tavares and Kasperi Kapanen win the opening faceoff.
  • Kapanen skated into the corner and gave the puck away.
  • 2-on-1, Campbell with a big save.
  • Kovalchuk takes another rush shot, Campbell with another save.

1-2

Goal. Barrie runs himself deep without any support (HE WAS BASICALLY NEXT TO MARNER) and Nick Suzuki gets a breakaway. He gets poke checked, but Kovalchuk pots home the rebound.