Tonight was game one of the Maple Leafs third series of the season against the Edmonton Oilers. This one is a three gamer, as opposed to the previous two, which were just two each. Before tonight the Leafs were 2-1-1 against Edmonton and were looking to move the four point gap between these two teams in the standings.
There was no Auston Matthews, but Jake Muzzin returned to the line up after breaking his face last weekend. Yes, he’s wearing a modified cage to protect that broken face. It’s a real test for the Leafs to be without their star player, and John Tavares now has the chance to improve his season as he centres Mitch Marner and Joe Thornton.
It’s also Jack Campbells return to the ice tonight after being injured early in the season against the Calgary Flames and he is tested hard right off the bat as Connor McDavid (and occasionally the others) put some high quality stuff on net, but Campbell shows no signs of rust. All of the Leafs are chipping in defensively to help Jack out as well.
His name is Timothy Jimothy Brodie pic.twitter.com/8xhYz2mCPO— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 28, 2021
Thornton doing his part defensively pic.twitter.com/jj8JIjXfnt— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 28, 2021
The Leafs didn’t give up on offense though, with some good shots and one great sequence from Alex Barabanov:
This sequence between Nylander, Bogosian and Barabanov pic.twitter.com/JIoxmm4nju— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 28, 2021
The game does not slow down. It’s fast paced and up and down the ice. The first ten minutes fly by with very few whistles. Just a great product to watch. Until this.
Barabanov bailed out by the hockey gods after turning the puck over to Connor McDavid pic.twitter.com/Gaj0BKx8Uq— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 28, 2021
Alex, my man, come on, I was just saying such nice things. The Maple Leafs get their first power play of the game after Kris Russel gets called for holding John Tavares, and the Leafs don’t take long to go up 1-0:
It’s an amazing play by Mitch Marner to hold that puck as long as he did, and then send it up to William Nylander. Great play, great goal.
It’s not long after that where we see Marner get a goal to go along with that assist:
Like, a minute after. What a shift by Mitch.
The Oilers don’t give up, Campbell has to make some amazing saves, especially after Jimmy Vesey gives up the puck to Tyler Ennis, who gets too close to Jack Campbell for Justin Holls liking:
Holl goes for Ennis after he clips Campbell pic.twitter.com/pSOw6yZ691— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 28, 2021
It’s not intentional, but it’s really nice to see someone sticking up for their teammate like that. This will end the first period, and the Maple Leafs are up 2-0.
It was a great period, and the Leafs had less than ten recorded shots. Can they keep up this pace in the second?
They do! The Leafs come at Edmonton hard with Pierre Engvall hitting Leon Draisaitl as Ilya Mikheyev goes wide of the net. Jack Cambell keeps his glove hand busy making saves and the Leafs are blocking shots all over the ice. The players are skating hard, plays are happening fast, and whistles are kept to the bare minimum of goalies holding the puck. Amazing hockey.
William Nylander has the puck on a string pic.twitter.com/o1oZML0l5D— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 28, 2021
Tavares tries to set up Marner in front pic.twitter.com/KFTZs2V3d6— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 28, 2021
The captain is finding the puck a lot this game pic.twitter.com/J54VpTFYPa— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 28, 2021
Nice save through traffic for Campbell pic.twitter.com/5udCqhrrcw— Holl 4 Norris (@LeafsAllDayy) February 28, 2021
Strong pad save by Campbell on Draisaitl pic.twitter.com/LUjsITpNp1— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 28, 2021
Jason Spezza puts the Leafs up 3-0 after TJ Brodie sprawls out on the ice to clear the puck and gets it just up to Jason Spezza who gives Mike Smith a good fake slapshot before putting it top corner:
Right after this Josh Archibald hits the cross bar on a shot, thank you cross bar. Leon
Draisaitl isn’t happy about how the game is going and is starting to get sloppy with his play. Luckily for him there are no refs in this game.
According to the broadcast, this is Draisaitl NOT trying to take a penalty pic.twitter.com/tARTC4WqCq— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 28, 2021
The Maple Leafs pin the Oilers in their zone for a few minutes. Everytime they try and clear the puck a Leaf appears and sends it back in. Finally, Mike Smith is able to corral the puck and hold it for a whistle.
Barabanov is having himself a game.— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 28, 2021
Wins the battles and sets up a chance in front. pic.twitter.com/D2TreuvjZK
Zach Hyman doing Zach Hyman things pic.twitter.com/dRIz8iJYOX— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 28, 2021
The Oilers are becoming extra frustrated, and take issues with the Leafs even going near the net. At the end of the period Barabanov gets into the crease and it leads to a scrum that sees Adam Larsson throw someone to the ground. The period ends 3-0 Leafs.
Larsson obviously saw that the refs let Weber get away with WWE moves pic.twitter.com/ASnMZJeyCr— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 28, 2021
Jack Campbell is tested early and often to start the third period, but he’s much too hyped to be back in net to even come close to letting anything in.
Jack Campbell makes the save, looks back to make sure Muzzin is okay and gives Boyd a tap pic.twitter.com/wUEIu0FqiB— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 28, 2021
The Oilers continue to push the Leafs into their own zone and take shots, control play, and do everything they can to score but the Leafs are fighting them hard, blocking shots, taking away passing lanes and pushing shots to the perimeter to help Campbell out.
Jack Campbell says no to Puljujarvi pic.twitter.com/qiEWGCN5LV— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 28, 2021
The Leafs push back against the Oilers and Zach Hyman gets the teams fourth goal of the night, using some fancy hands to get around the Oilers defense and dazzle Mike Smith.
The Oilers keep on coming, but they can’t penetrate the Maple Leafs net and the final minute of the game is keeping the Oilers out of the Leafs end so Jack Campbell can return to the ice in a big way.
This was probably the most fun I had watching a Leafs game this year. Yeah they had some bad turnovers but when they happened we got some big highlight saves from Campbell to watch. It wasn’t completely dominant, but when it’s a 4-0 win it’s good to see the other team get some chances to give you a scare and keep you on your toes.
Congratulations to Jack Campbell for his shutout, and good work by the Leafs to get it for him.
The next game is Monday night at 10PM Toronto time, which is disappointing, as demonstrated by Connor McDavid here: