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Maple Leafs on a roll in California, defeat Sharks 4-1

A very late game ends in a very nice win for the Leafs.

Toronto Maple Leafs v New York Islanders Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Hello brave souls who stayed up very late to watch the Toronto Maple Leafs play the San Jose Sharks tonight, and those sensible souls who are simply reading this on Saturday morning. It’s Joseph Woll vs. James Reimer in net in San Jose on Black Friday night.

Here are the lines at the start of the game.

First Period

Only 32 seconds into the game and William Nylander put the Leafs up 1-0, seeing a turnover lead to a play develop by Rielly and Tavares, he has a clear path to the net and gets one past Reimer.

Only a minute or so later, Nick Ritchie gets one past Reimer too, but it’s way after a whistle has blown the play dead and the Sharks are very unhappy about this. A big nice scrum ensues and the teams wind up 4-on-4. The penalties clear but the Sharks keep up heavy pressure on the Leafs and they find success when the Leafs go on a change and the puck turns over

The goals keep coming quickly. Now Wayne Simmonds tips in a shot from Kampf. Not even six minutes into the game and it’s already 2-1 for the Leafs.

Nylander and Engvall get a great setup a great 2-on-1 rush toward the Sharks net, but it’s called offside. Clearly, Engvall is being punished for being so tall as the official can’t believe it’s possible he could have kept one skate above the blue line and the other so far in front of it, but our giraffe on skates can do this, and I think this is onside.

Things start to settle down a bit, but there’s still some good scoring chances, including this one from ex-Leaf Barabanov.

Meanwhile, the Leafs are down one on defence after Rielly has left for the locker room after blocking a shot. It looks like it’s not too bad, but the Sharks arena has a weird layout where you can’t access the locker room from the visitor’s bench, so he had to wait for the next TV timeout to actually come back in the game.

It’s down to the final few minutes and Joseph Woll was a bit bored or something and decided he wanted the Leafs to kill off a penalty so he shoots the pick up over the glass.

The Leafs manage to kill this one off and then the final two minutes play out with both sides getting one good scoring chance: Nylander for the Leafs has a shot setup by Sandin that is blocked in front of the net, and Gregor getting a breakaway for the Sharks with his shot going wide.

The period ends with a score of 2-1, and Erik Karlsson reports the Leafs are a good team that try to play hockey.

Second Period

The period starts with Mitch Marner having some trouble trying to play hockey.

Auston Matthews can certainly play, and he has no problem quickly putting the Leafs up 3-1.

The Leafs take the first penalty of the period, but go full power kill mode. Alex Kerfoot, who blocked a shot in the dying seconds of the first period and he did not come out for the start of the second because of that previously mentioned weird layout of the arena, is now back and he gets this nice short-handed rush chance. Credit to James Reimer for this save.

Things reverse and the Leafs go on the power play and keep up the momentum, and no credit to Reimer here.

It’s now 4-1 and James Reimer is done for the night. The Sharks put Adin Hill in net.

The overlord chimes in as the second period winds down:

Katya: So really unusual game in some ways. The Sharks PP is awful. Their offence at 5-on-5 is great (or the Leafs are just defending that badly) but the goalies are making the difference in 5-on-5 play.

Some line shuffling happens as the period closes with Sheldon Keefe moving Kampf, Engvall, and Kerfoot together; and Ritchie is now with Spezza and Simmonds. Semyonov has been benched.

The final highlight of the period goes to Jason Spezza.

The Leafs have this in the bag if they can keep the Sharks off balance for the third.

It’s 4-1 at the end of the second period, the Government of Ontario really wants you to gamble on sports, and someone really likes the stairs.

Third Period

The Sharks come out hot and this was as close as it gets without going in.

Meanwhile, Engvall is sucking up to the boss by blocking shots... on the bench.

Semyonov has learned whatever lesson he needed to learn, and is back taking shifts on the ice now. The lines are restored back to what they were at the start of the game.

The Leafs keep up the pressure, getting another power play opportunity, though they can’t convert on it.

The Leafs take their foot off the gas a bit and make some mistakes with the puck on which the Sharks take full advantage but they are stonewalled at the Leafs net in two consecutive spectacular sequences by Joseph Woll. He’s going for first star of the night here as the game winds down.

Final Game Notes

Here’s the closing even-strength heat map from NaturalStatTrick.com

The Leafs started hot and the Sharks simply couldn’t get anything going until it was way too late. As you can see in the heat map above, when the Sharks could put things together they actually were able to poke holes in the Leafs defence and get shots off in the high danger areas a little too often for comfort, but Joseph Woll bailed them out.

Next up, the Leafs head back towards Ontario. Ontario, California, that is, playing the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday evening at a more reasonable 8:00 p.m. ET. Yes, that’s right, there will be no Leafs game on Saturday night. Instead, CBC will show the Habs lose to the Penguins.