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Game 24 Recap: Leafs low-key dominate the Avs for the win

Toronto took advantage of the depleted Avs’ goalie depth

Colorado Avalanche v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

GO LEAFS GO!

PERIOD ONE

First good chance goes to the Leafs.

And the Leafs draw first blood! Tavares springs Willy in the neutral zone, and he gets a step on the defenders so he had a clear snipe. 1-0 Leafs.

The second goal goes to the Leafs too, after a great cycle shift by the fourth line and Jason Spezza was in the right spot to clean up a rebound. 2-0 Leafs.

Joey Anderson had a couple of great chances to get his first as a Leaf.

William Nylander is a god damned precious gem and I love him.

Auston Matthews lost his mustache and GAINED goal scoring powers. Great forecheck by Bunting and set up by Marner. How the Avs thought to leave him all alone in front...

Leafs get a powerplay they can’t score on, and right after it ends the Avs come down and score with less than a second left in the period to make it 3-1. Oof.

First Period Thoughts

  • Shot attempts: The Leafs finished the period up 21 to 18 in shot attempts, and that number was much more dominant as they built their three goal lead.
  • Expected goals: Same story with expected goals. Leafs finished with 62% xGF share at evens, but they built up a bigger gap with their 3-0 lead.
  • Special teams: The Leafs’ PP looked good, and had a couple of really good chances. Didn’t score, which sucks since they gave up a goal after it expired, but can’t complain about it looking bad.
  • Standouts: Matthews, Willy, and Tavares really stood out for me with the plays they made, even outside of the goals they scored or assisted on.
  • Heatmap:

PERIOD TWO

Leafs decide to turn up the difficulty settings by taking a penalty to start the second period.

The Avs looked dangerous, but the Leafs killed it off. Not long after Marner drew a penalty himself, so the Leafs go back to the PP to try and re-extend the lead to three.

Or not! 20 seconds into the powerplay Tavares took a... pretty questionable hooking call, but we have some 4v4 time.

Now, I’m not entirely sure, but I believe the 20 second powerplay that the Avs got after the 4v4 ended lasted for the next five minutes because it sure looked like the Leafs were just constantly at 4v5 leading up to an inevitable Kadri goal. 3-2 Leafs.

Thankfully, the Leafs show signs of life after and Dermott scores a goal that.... well the goalie probably should have had it. 4-2 Leafs.

Jack’s had to be on his game tonight, especially in the second period when the Avs turned it on.

Tavares saves the day! A great cycle shift by the Tavares line and Tavares was Johnny on the spot to put away the loose puck in front. 5-2 Leafs.

Second Period Thoughts

  • Shot attempts: The Leafs lost the shot share battle more heavily, 12-18. The Avs definitely seemed to control the play more and get into the Leafs’ end. But...
  • Expected goals: The expected goal share favoured the Leafs at 59%. The Leafs did a good job of blocking shots and generating more dangerous chances when they got them, even if it felt like the Avs were the dominant team in the period. Having multiple powerplays probably instill that feeling as well.
  • Special teams: Speaking of, the Leafs’ PK did a good job and didn’t give up a goal. Their short 20 second powerplay didn’t really have a chance to do anything.
  • Standouts: Campbell made some big saves in the period, and the big boys are the ones driving play and generating good chances.
  • Heatmap:

PERIOD THREE

Leafs start the third period in style, with Auston Matthews scoring his second of the game!

Poor Nick Ritchie is the only Leaf that the Avs goalie can stop...

Campbell is still standing strong.

Matthews completed the mustache-less hat trick! 7-2 Leafs.

Pierre Engvall padding the stats, streaks through the neutral zone and fires a wrist shot past the poor goalie to make it 8-2.

Avs do get a late powerplay, and Kadri of course scored his second goal of the game.

Final Thoughts

I can’t give the final NST numbers since they apparently decided the game was over after two periods and never updated it. But, safe to say that the same trends continued. The Leafs controlled play and were the better team for most of the game. But after having a 3-0 lead, the Avs got it within one goal. The Leafs scored quickly after with a bad goal the goalie should have had. And it was downhill from there. When Matthews scored early in the third period, the Avs looked like they were just accepting their fate.

For the game, the difference that led to the blowout was that the Leafs had one of the best goalies in the league while the Avs played their third stringer who was very bad. The Leafs were the better team, still, I won’t take that away from them, especially when the game was closer or when they built their initial lead. But I wonder how much differently this game would have gone if the Avs had their top goalie playing and not this guy. It’s tough to play from behind the whole game while your goalie gives up backbreakers any time you claw back an inch of progress.