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Maple Leafs just barely beat Chicago after looking like they had it in the bag

Petr Mrázek was not the problem. David Kämpf was an unlikely solution.

Chicago Blackhawks v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

Petr Mrázek is back. Will the Leafs play well in front of him? Ondřej Kaše is on the top line, so we’ll see how that goes, too.

First Period

Well.

And I mean.

But.

1-0 Chicago, and guess why?

Turnover!

Jake Muzzin draws a penalty, so maybe they can get out of the hole they dug in the first 2 minutes.

Okay.

But...

I was kidding.

Tie Game

Power play looking good again, even if that was bad goalie-ing in part.

Kristiāns Rubīns takes a penalty for — perhaps — being big. Not really sure about this one.

Niiiiice stop by Mrázek on Alex DeBrincat, though.

Chicago has the Leafs spinning on this PP. Clearing attempts are painfully bad.

Mrázek skates about 25 times more distance than Jack Campbell in a given game.

Whooooooooo Nylander!

2-1 Leafs.

When the Leafs play teams with limited forward depth, they load up vs Matthews, and the other guys get to have fun.

Kyle Clifford draws a penalty, and it’s PP time. (That’s virtually the highest level of play the Leafs fourth line can aspire to without Spezza.)

Oops, there it is. Alex Kerfoot is sent airborne on a trip by Riley Stillman, the perp on the Clifford interference call that ended less than a minute ago. That’s asking to not play the rest of the game.

This one is pretty. Nylander to Kaše to Matthews and in.

3-1 Leafs

Leafs take a high-sticking call with three minutes left, but Chicago can’t do anything about it.

Thoughts

  • Chicago are not very good
  • The Leafs are unlikely to stop giving up all these odd-man rushes against
  • William Nylander had a fun period

Second Period

Mrázek slides out to the parking lot to make a save, and we’re just going to have to get used to this.

Whoo hoo! Alex Steeves nearly does it, and then Pieere Envall does, and if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go erase that comment about the fourth line..

4-1 Leafs.

Clifford doing some good work here. (I like him fine. I find the hatred of him very funny.) Steeves with his first NHL point.

Mrázek with a great stop and then is assisted by the new defenceman wearing 34.

A minute or so later, Mrázek is out in the parking lot across the street and a shot goes wide.

Chicago gets a power play when Michael Bunting takes one instead of drawing one. That was such classic interference, I’m surprised they called it.

Chicago get one past Mrázek from a long way out, just as the power play ends and after a cycle the Leafs just endured, rather than defended.

4-2 Leafs

Fourth liner, number 34 out with Ritchie and Simmonds nearly evens it up. He does get around.

Thoughts

  • Lots of special teams in the first meant lots of fourth line in the second
  • When a team is down by three, they are the most likely team to get the next goal, and so it was

Third Period

The third gets really going with this very nasty hit by Jake Muzzin on Reese Johnson after Johnson gets him in the wrist.

Johnson goes off for concussion protocol, and Chicago scores in short order.

4-3 Leafs

The game that was in the bag, now isn’t. Suspension? Who knows. I think hits like that, intentional or not, should get five and a game. Oh, god, now we’re doing the “principle point of contact” analysis, and how about we just don’t?

Mrázek with a good save on an odd-man rush. He nearly, uh, let that go in.

Mrázek doesn’t get them all, and the Leafs are giving up all kinds of chances here as Chicago owns the puck.

Tie Game

Rubīns is stapled to the bench, but the bottom six sure are playing a lot.

A wild William Nylander is (finally) sighted in the last minutes playing with Matthews. Keefe would rather play the depth than the Tavares line in this sort of situation.

The Kämpf line get a nice bounce and we have the lead.

5-4 Leafs

I really was just about to complain harder about depth over Nylander, and I think it’s the wrong way to assess risk, but hey, even wrong choices work out sometimes.

And that’s the game!

Thoughts

  • Turnovers
  • Defensive weakness
  • Mitch Marner helps to mitigate both of those by contributing to offensive-zone possession
  • Mrázek was himself, near as I could tell