The Toronto Maple Leafs lost to the Montreal Canadiens by a score of 2-1 after two third period goals by the Habs pushed them past a lethargic Leafs team. Mitch Marner scored his seventh of the season, and his first career goal against the Habs, but after that goal early in the first, the Leafs turned o cruise control and watched as their boat took on water before sinking in the third.
Frederik Andersen stopped 23 of 25 in the loss, he wasn’t the problem in this game. He had to make some great saves in the second half of the game. Auston Matthews had a couple great chances in the first half of the game but couldn’t quite convert. He didn’t get a chance to redeem himself in the second half.
His first career goal against the Canadiens, Marner opens the scoring! After some great work behind the net by Matthews and Hyman, Marner did a great job of skating into the slot, finding the pass from Matthews, and quickly beating Price who had committed to the loose puck. Some great hand-eye coordination from all three.
Matthews and Marner connected again later in the period with a sharp passing play initiated by Marner. We’ve seen the two create this goal on the power play for years now, but this time it just didn’t come off.
The Leafs got the first power play of the game, Toffoli for tripping on Dermott. Matthews had a good chance but it took three quarters of the power play for them to gain a foothold in the Habs zone. The Canadiens didn’t get many chances in the first period, but this was one that TJ Brodie did a great job of mitigating while on the power play.
Brodie with another good play on a 2-on-1 against pic.twitter.com/4mSJyb9zJN— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 14, 2021
Kerfoot fed from Nylander, post! Nylander then got to an open space, took a heads-up pass from Holl, and had his own chance got stopped.
The Habs had a flurry of chances at the end of the period where they got four chances on Andersen to put them ahead in shot share, but the Leafs had the lion’s share of scoring chances, especially in quality.
- Shot attempts: 15-16 (49%)
- Shots on goal: 8-6
- Scoring Chances: 12-10
- Expected goals: 1.11-0.40 (73%)
Shot share was close, but the Leafs were blocking and deflecting lots of shots from the point so they never troubled Andersen. Another positive defensive aspect the Leafs had was their ability to box out the Habs from the front of the net and keep rebounds away. Per Natural Stat Trick, the Habs didn’t have a single rebound chance.
Marner was great, Matthews looked really dangerous, all three pairs were reliable and passable at their jobs — what a time to be alive!
Among the minor characters, Engvall stood out (literally). He’s a good defensive player who can be part of the offense sometimes, if nothing else. I didn’t noticed the fourth line very much. Hutchinson was invisible, ugh.
Vesey has been a bit of an afterthought since he was taken off the top six, but he makes one good play a game and this was it.
Good defensive work by Vesey.— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 14, 2021
Strips Lehkonen and clears the puck pic.twitter.com/lGKH80R8ia
This was the extent of the types of chances the Habs were getting in this game. A quick chance in traffic without passing options to the left or right. It’s allowed Andersen to get out of his net and square to the shot without worry of rebounds behind him. I really like that.
Ok, there’s some of that fourth line spunk. It’s been funny how everytime Petan gets into the lineup it’s like he’s come in out of nowhere and been an incredibly useful player. Perpetually underrated is a very unique skill. May I also say it’s a Spiderman skill?
Travis Boyd and Nic Petan are the answer pic.twitter.com/UYdCBFeUAq— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 14, 2021
What can Justin Holl not do?
A Tavares deflection with some hop from Holl pic.twitter.com/JjRzPMGJXW— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 14, 2021
The game then turned into a bit of a snooze-fest. There were a lot of whistles, each team could muster about a B-grade scoring chance on each of their possessions, and the overall pace of play had come way down. One thing I’ll credit the Leafs here in is that while their offense took a break, their team defense stayed at a level where at least the Habs weren’t getting more chances due to the lack of pressure they were feeling.
The Leafs defenders simply ran the Habs out of time and space as they got closer to the net and it was really effective.
- Shot attempts: 12-13 (48%)
- Shots on goal: 7-5
- Scoring Chances: 6-4
- Expected goals: 0.56-0.51 (52%)
So, that wasn’t the most exciting period of the game on the basis of goals, but the Leafs were beating the Habs on the side of expected goals and scoring chances by attrition. Chances seemed to go back and forth in the slowest possible form of river hockey, keeping the shot share rather even, but every chance the Leafs got, it came from a better position on the ice.
I don’t have much to say about the second, but it was 20 minutes where the Leafs had the lead and I was never really worried about them losing it at any point.
The Leafs turtled to start the third period. They kept giving up chances and their skating slowed down while the Habs sped up. The result was a goal for Tyler Toffoli.
It didn’t get better after the period. One thing I didn’t like was from Muzzin after he hit Josh Anderson. He shied away from a couple fakes from Anderson and gave the puck away when he did it. Come on, Muzz, you’re bigger than that.
Freddie gets a piece of this shot but it was an important piece pic.twitter.com/5ABIc5jwaB— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 14, 2021
With three minutes left in regulation, Brendan Gallagher got the go-ahead goal. Their first lead of the game.
Gallagher puts the Habs ahead. 2-1 pic.twitter.com/LsDrnqB1nq— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 14, 2021
The Leafs got nothing done after this goal, even with the empty net. A pathetic effort following a pathetic two periods.
Full game 5v5 stats:
- Shot attempts: 39-55 (42%)
- Shots on goal: 21-25
- Scoring Chances: 28-26
- Expected goals: 2.15-1.81 (54%)
Fulemin made the point that this was one of the games where you notice Marner on every shift, and by god that is accurate... If you only watched the first period. I’m not blaming Marner alone, because god he tried all night. There was just nothing from the rest of the team. All the skaters just disappeared after the first 19 minutes of the game.
The Tavares line seemed consistent throughout the game, but honestly, they were consistently mediocre. I don’t like Mikheyev on that line, I would like someone else there now, please.
The third line was equally as mediocre. They were like that Mikheyev-Kerfoot-Hyman super-checker line to start the season, except they don’t check very well and they still have no offense.
Boyd got two high hits in this game, I hope he’s okay.
It’s easy to feel good about a boring game with no offense when you’re winning, but it can turn around rather quickly.