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Game 27 Recap: Maple Leafs overpower Blue Jackets

Two all-new Leafs made their league debut, how did they do?

Columbus Blue Jackets v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Andrew Lahodynskyj/NHLI via Getty Images

Welcome to Leafs Nation, Alex Steeves and Kristians Rubins, hoping for a fantastic debuted!

FIRST PERIOD

Leafs start off strong, with Clifford getting the best chance early.

WILLY NYE SNIPER GUY! ON THE POWERPLAY! 1-0 Leafs!

Columbus challenged for goalie interference but the goal stood after review, so the Leafs got another PP. Ritchie once again had a chance and once again did not score... starting to feel bad for the guy.

Bunting give and take. First, took a penalty, then when the Leafs killed it he gave Matthews this BEAUTIFUL set up for the goal.

IT FINALLY HAPPENED! NICK RITCHIE GOAL ALERT! NICK RITCHIE GOAL ALERT! THIS IS NOT A DRILL! Kase fist pumping in excitement for it was very wholesome.

Late in the period, Jake Muzzin blocked a shot and looked hurt by it. With 30 seconds left he went to the dressing room early, hopefully it just stung him and he needs some ice.

Period One Thoughts:

  • Shots: At 5v5 the shot attempts were pretty even, the Blue Jackets actually had a 21 to 20 edge. On special teams it flipped to 25 to 24 for the Leafs.
  • Expected goals: But in terms of quality, the Leafs had a much stronger edge with 60.63% of the expected goal share.
  • Special teams: Leafs are 1 for 2 on the PP and killed off their one penalty kill, so good job!
  • Standouts: Nick Ritchie is leading the way in expected goals generated, with Matthews and Tavares behind him. Bunting had that incredible pass to Matthews which deserves all the recognition in the world. And shout out to Kristians Rubins, in his first NHL game rocking a 100% shot attempt and expected goal share!
  • Heatmap:

SECOND PERIOD

Not much has happened so far this period, but the Leafs are getting their chances. It’s felt like Willy and Tavares have had a few solid chances of their own. Tavares almost sprung Willy on a breakaway but it was juuuuuuuust out of his reach. Then Tavares had his own great chance here that he whiffed.

But the top line with Matthews is humming along nicely as well.

Willy is on a mission tonight. He has a goal but he’s had chances, or set up chances, all game.

HOLY SHIT JACK CAMPBELL WHAT A SAVE ON THE PENALTY KILL!

Columbus scored later on in the PP, which shouldn’t be allowed after a save like that IMO. 3-1 Leafs.

Tavares finally breaks through on the powerplay! Lovely high tip off the Rielly point shot. 4-1 Leafs.

AUSTON MATTHEWS 7 SECONDS LATER! 5-1 Leafs.

Period Two Thoughts:

  • Shot attempts: Blue Jackets had the edge 18 to 15 at even strength, as they tried mounting more pressure for the comeback. But...
  • Expected goals: It was an even 50% split in expected goal share, so the Leafs still are managing better quality for their attempts.
  • Special teams: Each team had one powerplay attempt, and each team scored. We’ll call it a draw.
  • Standouts: I mean... Matthews has two goals. Rielly has four assists. Campbell made that ridiculous save. Nylander and Tavares are driving a lot of chances. The big boys are doing their jobs tonight.
  • Heatmap:

THIRD PERIOD

Bjorkstrand with another tip off a point shot makes it 5-2.

Jack Campbell is out of his mind tonight with the highlights.

Leafs have engaged full turtle-mode, and not doing it that effectively. They’re giving up a good chunk of shot attempts and they’re not all low-danger. The Leafs do have some periods of getting a chance or two of their own, like this Rielly shot:

Eventually they give up another goal off a partial two on one, with Steeves just not able to catch up/tie up Kuraly.

Final Thoughts:

The Blue Jackets are a rebuilding team. The Leafs are in their prime. Their stars, even absent a bunch of injured guys, were just overwhelming for Columbus. Matthews scored twice. Rielly had four points. Tavares and Willy each had a goal. I have to say that Steeves looked like he belonged, in limited minutes. Good skater, didn’t look afraid or overmatched.