The Toronto Maple Leafs kicked off their first series against the Winnipeg Jets*, having only played them once before this season. The two teams met in the fourth game of the season, a 3-1 Toronto Maple Leafs win. That game was a rare one-off between two teams in the North Division only schedule, but now the Leafs have their first real test against the team right behind them in the standings.
This first half of the period plays out like everyone expected of two offense oriented teams. Lots of fast action, strong plays and excellent chances.
Brodie continuing to do the little things pic.twitter.com/S7euAeFSyv— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 10, 2021
Zach Hyman would come in and easily score on Connor Hellebuyck to put the Maple Leafs up by one.
Jake Muzzin would get called for hooking Mark Schieffle, but unlike an earlier penalty against Zach Bogosian, the Leafs can’t kill this one off and Andrew Copp scores his fifth goal of the season to tie the game at one each.
After the tying goal, the teams tighten things up just a little but, taking more time to put plays together. John Tavares comes in on Hellebuyck and tries to play around Niel Pionk, but can’t get a shot off and Pionk is called for hooking and the Maple Leafs are given their first power play of the game.
Auston Matthews takes care of the power play quickly as he deflects a Morgan Rielly point shot into the net to put the Leafs up 2-1.
The first period comes to a close with the Maple Leafs up2-1.
See, the problem with the games against Vancouver was....Vancouver isn’t good enough to play with the Leafs, so they aren’t interested. Oilers? Beat them. Juggernaut Habs? No problem. Senators? Yawn, not even going to try because why shoul- oh. we lost.
Now the second period, this pattern continues, with the added bonus of bouncing pucks off the opponents heads in an attempt to intimidate:
Nice play between Hyman and Tavares results in Beaulieu taking a puck off the hand pic.twitter.com/fCunmxZn3S— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 10, 2021
The Jets* keep trying to tie the game but the Leafs defence and Freddie Andersen make sure that doesn’t happen.
Of course the same is true for the Leafs. They’re putting shots on net and trying to set up goals, but they can’t get that third.
Rielly set up Mikheyev for the tap-in pic.twitter.com/lmJ3D7dSUw— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 10, 2021
Nate Thompson gets called for tripping William Nylander, but the Leafs only managed one shot on that power play.
Nylander taken down and the Leafs get the PP pic.twitter.com/whiVGlk4Om— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 10, 2021
The Jets* come back and tie the game wen Auston Matthews deflects the his second goal of the game, sadly this one gets past Andersen and it gives Josh Morrisey his first goal of the season.
The Leafs continue to pour on the offense, but keep being denied by Hellebuyck. Coming out of the Jets* zone, a poor line change leads to the Leafs playing catch up as the three forwards entre the zone, and Nick Ehlers sets up Kyle Connor for Winnipeg’s third goal of the game and the lead changes hands. 3-2 Jets*.
The Maple Leafs start the third period down a goal, trying to get one more in the net to tie the game. They have a small advantage with the Jets* now down a player as Nathan Beaulieu is kept off the ice after blocking that shot with his head earlier.
The Leafs and Jets* all collapse into a hamster pile in front of the net with the puck loose somewhere in there for a solid 30 seconds of scrambling, but the Jets* win and get the puck out and away from the net, where Hellebuyck can find and grab his stick once again.
The Leafs put puck after puck after puck on net, but can not get through the brick wall the Jets* have built there. halfway through the third period and the Leafs have almost double the shots on net as the Jets*, but still one fewer goal.
Marner with a pair of chances on Hellebuyck pic.twitter.com/xdp0HZQZVs— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 10, 2021
Kerfoot has a chance to tie it off the Nylander feed pic.twitter.com/RQBwIOKpsG— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 10, 2021
The Jets* finally get a chance on the Leafs, after a turnover at the blue line, Mason Appleton gets a pass from Andrew Copp and scores while sliding across the crease to double the lead. 4-2 Winnipeg.
The Jets* begin closing off the scoring lanes and slots, forcing the Leafs to shoot outside. They’re getting the puck out of their own and and having the Leafs chase it down and bring it back. The Jets* are doing their best to lock up this game.
The Leafs are getting through, but when they do they have to face Hellebuyck, who has decided to just not let pucks through tonight.
With just under three minutes remaining, and while just fighting to get the puck past Hellebuyck, the Leafs pull the goalie and put out a fourth forward.
Hellebuyck stops Tavares off the double deflection pic.twitter.com/nog6WxviRE— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 10, 2021
Marner shoots, Tavares shoots, and then Auston Matthews finally brings the Leafs within one.
AUSTON MATTHEWS— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 10, 2021
We got ourselves a hockey game! 20th of the season! pic.twitter.com/l8iiNDSKwG
The Jets* are unable to score the empty net goal, and end up with the 4-3 victory against the Leafs.
Okay folks, only two more of these games this week!
The next game is Thursday night at 7PM. Boy I sure hope that nothing happens to Connor Hellebuyck before the next game. Like getting trapped in a freight elevator, or sent to the Toronto Mystery Spot, never to be seen again.
I hope that doesn’t happen.