William Nylander, take a bow. The Toronto Maple Leafs winger saved his team with a goal late in regulation, before scoring on his first shot in overtime to lift the blue and white over the Calgary Flames by a score of 2-1. Michael Hutchinson stopped 21 of 22 in the win, beating David Rittich, who gave up two on 39 shots in the loss.
The Leafs were running into a brick wall for much of the game in Rittich despite great chances in the second and third. Ultimately a defensive breakdown in the third put the Flames up late.
It was the Nylander show from then on as he smashed home a loose puck in a scrum in front of the net to send the game to overtime, and then sniped on Rittich to win the game. Get you a winger who can do both, amirite?
The Leafs had a poor start to the game, giving up seven shot attempts in the first five minutes, which ultimately resulted in a penalty to Vesey (interference on Chris Tanev). The Leafs did a good job killing the penalty, Hutchinson communicated well with his defense (as it’s especially necessary) and covered pucks up when he needed to.
Good stick by Bogosian breaks up the cross-crease attempts pic.twitter.com/Z0dVP6KFKJ— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 25, 2021
The Leafs got their own power play when Rasmus Andersson hooked Hyman. Most of the power play the commentators talked about Vesey getting a chance on the first unit and how it’s an example of Keefe trying to lift him up. They talked about it for the whole two minutes because the Leafs didn’t get any chances on the power play. Lehtonen and Nylander connected at the end of the man advantage, but that was stopped by Rittich.
The Leafs got a second power play with Leivo tripping Spezza. This time they started with the Tavares-Nylander unit. They got swarmed around the boards and lost possession. The first unit came out and were stuck in the neutral zone most of the time. Not great.
The power play lost its mojo— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 25, 2021
A third power play! We like that, right?
TAKE IT BACK— bobbi :) (@mo_toews) February 25, 2021
Power play? Can we return it?— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 25, 2021
I don't even know if I want this pp tbh— Mel (@swedechildomine) February 25, 2021
Hey at least on this power play they got one chance? It was a half-chance followed by a clear, but still! The Flames just got bodies and sticks in the way before the Leafs could get there. That was the problem all period and it didn’t change during the special teams.
Third PP in-a-row for the Leafs as Engvall is hooked pic.twitter.com/0z2OQOLkRj— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 25, 2021
- Shot attempts: 11-14 (44%)
- Shots on goal: 8-6
- Scoring Chances: 3-7
- Expected goals: 0.32-0.43 (42%)
Power Play Stats:
- First PP: 2 minutes. 1 shot: a big xG chance from Vesey in front of the net, didn’t look dangerous to me, though.
- Second PP: 2 minutes. 0 shots.
- Third PP: 2 minutes. 2 shots: Matthews and Marner, both contested from distance without any rebound available.
The Flames seemed much more interested in stopping the Leafs play offense than the Leafs seemed interested in playing offense. They were second to all the puck battles, lost numbers quickly, leading to emergency passes to the outside and turnovers out of the zone.
Hutchinson was good, the power play was terrible, I thought Engvall had a stand-out period with his work in front of the net. He seemed to be one of the few up to the pace and drew a power play for his work. Barabanov also had a chance early in the period but I didn’t see him after that.
Hutchinson had to be a standout player at the beginning of the second like he did in the first. He had to find and cover pucks for faceoffs a few times once he saw his players getting lost in their own zone and falling behind the Flames high tempo. He did a really good job of managing the Leafs deficit in pace and giving them lots of chances to bring in fresh legs. As a result, the Flames never really got extends shifts in the offensive zone.
I thought Rielly was playing really well, he jumped up in the play a couple times and got a good chance in the slot. He came back on a later shift and stripped Lucic of the puck on an odd-man rush.
The Leafs got a lot of outside shots early in the period, but their first big chance came from Tavares after a quick from Matthews (they played a shift together). Tavares made a great move but Rittich stopped him with a desperate save, frustrating Leafs fans everywhere.
What a chance by Tavares from Matthews pic.twitter.com/M6p5C32RpR— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 25, 2021
Holl tripped up Nordstrom (power play evening out!) I wonder if the Tavares chance started to open the game up a bit as Mikheyev had another brilliant chance on the penalty kill, but Rittich stopped him again. After the power play Matthews got a chance five-hole, too.
Lots of people say Mikheyev is snake-bitten, but just think he shoots at the goalie’s trailing shoulder when the other half of the net is completely open.
Mikheyev with another shorthanded scoring chance pic.twitter.com/RIWMzhtKdB— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 25, 2021
Matthews was close here on the five-hole.
Matthews tries to go 5-hole on Rittich pic.twitter.com/f5WVAHrHe2— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 25, 2021
- Shot attempts: 22-13 (65%)
- Shots on goal: 14-10
- Scoring Chances: 13-9
- Expected goals: 0.84-0.54 (61%)
The Leafs actually had a much better offensive period and ironically it was without any power plays. All at 5v5, the Leafs more than doubled their shot attempts with 24 in the period and scoring chances exploded from 3 to 13. The only problem with the period was Dave Rittich.
Another positive from the period was Hutchinson’s continued strong play. He kept up with Rittich as the Flames also got their fair share of chances, particularly one from Johnny Gaudreau that Hutch smothered.
Hutch puts the hand up to Gaudreau pic.twitter.com/oGzwW5MbDg— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 25, 2021
Barabanov had, I think, his third chance off the rush near the start of the third period. He dropped his left shoulder and went wide on Kylington before getting a sharp angle shot on Rittich. This game was one where he seemed to be coming into his own, which is about a fourth liner. It was nice to see.
A few minutes later, Boyd came streaking down the left and got his own chance on Rittich. He was pushed into the net by a Tkachuk, knocking it off and drawing a penalty in the process.
Boyd draws the call but another tough collision for him pic.twitter.com/riOQtKZWzP— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 25, 2021
LOADED FIRST UNIT ALERT
Alas, they got nothing going except a chance against by Backlund. The second unit came out and Spezza ripped one high and wide as he entered the zone.
Nylander had a chance from the side of the net off the rush and then tipped a point shot from Rielly just wide. The puck was retrieved by the Flames and the play went back the other way, meanwhile Matthews and Andersson got in a shoving match behind the bench and both took penalties. Not a good trade for us.
Auston Matthews is pissed— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 25, 2021
Battle with Andersson pic.twitter.com/NjASBTwMRU
4v4 was fun as Marner-Tavares and Nylander-Mikheyev played with the puck a lot and got some good offensive chances. Rielly basically skated a double shift and was moving end to end the whole time. It’s these subtle things that really show Rielly’s value.
Engvall to Barabanov again! Rittich again.
Barabanov with another look this game pic.twitter.com/EZXu3WotYW— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 25, 2021
Expletive. Dermott and Holl couldn’t retrieve the dump in. Dermott left the front of the net, Holl left the front of the net, Engvall left the front of the net. And it’s in the back of the net 3:27 left in regulation.
THANK YOU WILLY!!! LEAFS SCORE!!! After a massive scrum in front of the net, Nylander jams away at the puck and pushes it through Rittich and into the back of the net. DOESN’T WORK HARD MY ASH.
Nylander finds it through the mess! pic.twitter.com/hMiGIT4s88— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 25, 2021
- Shot attempts: 16-8 (67%)
- Shots on goal: 8-2
- Scoring Chances: 9-3
- Expected goals: 0.92-0.28 (77%)
The Flames scored on only two shots on goal in the period, what a blow. I really think Holl and Dermott just plain missed where they should be and drifted out of the zone. It shouldn’t be on Nylander to come that far down when he also needs to be there for passes to the top of the zone. Engvall also drifted too far in.
The Flames nearly scored the empty netter with two minutes left in the game with Lindholm but thankfully he shot it wide, allowing Nylander to score and bring the game to overtime.
2-1 (GAME OVER!)
WILLIAM NYLANDER DOES IT AGAIN!!!