The Toronto Maple Leafs gave up three goals within a span of three minutes in the first period and couldn’t recover from an eventual 5-2 loss at the hands of the Winnipeg Jets. Jack Campbell was pulled for the first time as a Leaf after giving up three goals on seven shots. Alex Galchenyuk and John Tavares scored for the Leafs, while Nikolaj Ehlers and Kyle Connor each scored two for the Jets in the win.
Nick Robertson earned his first career NHL point in the regular season with an assist on Tavares goal, that was the only high point in the game.
The first line for the Leafs scored twice, but they were also on the ice for three goals against, the last of which caused by an embarrassing turnover by Mitch Marner and miscalculation by backup goalie David Rittich, who ended up stopping 15 of 16 in the loss.
Gally Gets a Good Goal! Four minutes into the game, the Tavares line crosses the blueline, the puck goes right to left from Tavares to Marner to Galchenyuk, who one-timed the puck past Connor Hellebuyck. The puck bounced in and out of the net, but the ref never blew the whistle. The play kept going for a whole minute before the buzzer went. They reviewed the chance and gave Galch the goal, his third of the season and second as a Leaf.
After falling back down to Earth in the last few games, Campbell was back to his old self, tracking the puck on Stastny for this save.
Point-blank save by Jack Campbell on Stastny pic.twitter.com/wUPrSeCZ7w— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) April 15, 2021
The Leafs got a 5-on-3 for over a minute after Appleton and DeMelo both got sent to the box for holding and cross checking. On the play, Spezza fed Galchenyuk for a one-timer from the right wing, but he smashed the post. Nearly had his second of the game. Alas, the Leafs didn’t score.
Galchenyuk rings a one-timer off the post pic.twitter.com/cSlbTqKG2T— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) April 15, 2021
Bogosian got penalised for Dubois falling down, Nikolaj Ehlers scored within nine seconds of the power play starting.
Kyle Connor added another as the Leafs gave up a 2-on-1, 27 seconds after the power play goal. Muzzin and Holl just gave up the middle of the ice, and the first line all got caught deep.
And the Jets are ahead via Kyle Connor pic.twitter.com/SGyiFQYIOu— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) April 15, 2021
It took a couple more minutes before Scheifele got a third on Campbell, but he did on a breakaway. Marner lost the puck on a fancy play, Muzzin and Holl were nowhere to be found for support. Campbell got pulled for David Rittich within 15 minutes of the game. Three goals on seven shots.
Here’s a point shot Rittich stopped.
- Shot attempts: 14-13 (52%)
- Shots on goal: 4-7
- Scoring chances: 4-8
- Expected goals: 0.29-0.47 (39%)
Saving my thoughts for the end of the game, because I know it’ll still be relevant 40 minutes later.
The shot map in the first period was about what you would expect looking at the stats. A few good chances early in the game, only to be followed up with perimeter shots that didn’t carry any danger after the three goals.
Muzzin and Holl are having a time— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) April 16, 2021
Rittich gloves it pic.twitter.com/vTDcz6LwHq
I didn’t see any lasting lineup changes made by Keefe in the second period, but a couple mixed shifts caught my attention. Engvall found himself on the ice with Mikheyev and Hyman and the trio stayed in the offensive zone for an extended shift. Seeing a reunited HEM line was nice to see. Another mixed line also created some magic...
JT scores! NRob gets his first career point! The fourth line was at the end of their shift, with Tavares coming on for Brooks. Spezza got the puck in the corner from a dump in from Robertson. He fed the puck to the middle of the ice for a streaking Tavares, who beat Hellebuyck to bring the Leafs back into the game. On the goal, Robertson got his first career NHL regular season point, with a secondary assist.
Nick Robertson gets a point!— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) April 16, 2021
What a pass by Spezza! pic.twitter.com/TtJaWwHMre
Maple Leafs forward Nick Robertson has recorded his first NHL regular season point with an assist on John Tavares’ second period goal. #LeafsForever— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) April 16, 2021
Tavares got called for a hook, sending the Leafs to the penalty kill. They did a lot better this time than the last time, killing it off. Rittich was good on the kill.
Big David David making stops on the PK pic.twitter.com/QipUUl28yk— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) April 16, 2021
Dubois took a dirty run at Kerfoot at the end of the period, sending the Leafs to the power play to start the third period.
- Shot attempts: 20-12 (63%)
- Shots on goal: 10-6
- Scoring chances: 11-6
- Expected goals: 0.60-0.20 (75%)
A much better period for the Leafs, who had score effects on their side. Tavares’ goal was the team’s best chance in the period. The Jets didn’t push for much offense, while the only offense the Leafs could muster was volume shots from the wings or in traffic.
Simmonds got a chance on this solo rush, as the Leafs started to pick up the pace in the game.
Simmonds evading the stick check from Connor to get a shot pic.twitter.com/jNbA5TsavS— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) April 16, 2021
Marner got his jock stolen by Ehlers as he was skating back in his own zone. Rittich tried to play the puck, but Ehlers swiped it in the goal. An embarrassing goal from start to finish and killed all the momentum gained through the previous 25 minutes.
Marner is stripped— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) April 16, 2021
Rittich is bamboozled pic.twitter.com/aEaKZVhEB4
The Leafs weren’t getting anything going offensively and it eventually led to a turnover and Connor scoring his second goal of the game.
Full game 5v5 stats:
- Shot attempts: 46-35 (57%)
- Shots on goal: 22-18
- Scoring chances: 20-18
- Expected goals: 1.13-0.93 (55%)
I have many thoughts after this game:
- Teams do lots of homework on the Leafs. For example on the second goal. They pressured Marner high, drew a turnover knowing the defensemen wouldn’t be close because they’re always told to skate down the boards, and got a breakaway goal from it. On the second goal, if you pin the forwards down low, and a defenseman pinches up, you’re guaranteed an odd-man rush the other way if you can pull the puck out of the corner.
- None of that could’ve happened without poor execution from the Leafs. They’ve been sloppy along the boards, their passes, and with their rotations in this game. They didn’t show up for their goalie, they didn’t show up for themselves, just awful.
- With Matthews and Nylander out, the Leafs needed Tavares and Marner to have good games. Tavares did his job, in my opinion. Marner didn’t. He was responsible for two goals against with soft giveaways and he wasn’t getting anything going offensively after the first goal, especially on the power play.
- The first line finished the game with 30% shot share and expected goals with only Tavares having a higher expected goal because he scored his on a different line. They were shut down by the All-Star defensive pairing of Neal Pionk and Derek Forbort. Like, what?
- Why are these three pairs the only ones allowed to play games this season? Are we all 100% convinced Bogosian is better than Timothy Liljegren? Are we suring making zero adjustments all season was a good idea? Bogosian has been “fine” this season, but he’s also taken a lot of penalties (most on the team before tonight, -10 differential which is also worst on the team). I really don’t like the fact that there’s no backup plan available mid-game if one of the top-two pairs has a stinker. Dermott can’t do it, and Bogosian definitely shouldn’t try it. If only there was a fresh face that could have a shot to show his worth in a season where top of the division is all but sealed. Just try it, why are they afraid to try it?
- I really have no idea what the point of the third line was in this game. Thornton-Engvall-Simmonds. Are they an offensive line? Are they a defensive line? Are they just meant to eat minutes so Thornton and Simmonds can stand around on the power play for two minutes a game? I saw in this game Engvall doing a lot of work trying to transition the puck through the ice and failing because he has no options. Thornton has been playing like Vesey recently: invisible until someone passes him the puck for a chance once a game. Simmonds got a lot of shots in this game, but all of them solo efforts that didn’t trouble the Jets at all. I think Engvall has use as a possession forward with players that can play with him (Foligno, Kerfoot, Spezza, Hyman), players who can adapt their games to what’s needed on the ice.
- The Kerfoot second line was invisible in the game and thank god for that. The best I saw out of that line was when Engvall centred Mikheyev and Hyman. They actually made something happen in the offensive zone, and kept possession as Mikheyev was pressured to leave the zone.
- It was great to see Nick Robertson get his first NHL point in the regular season. In terms of his play on the whole, he works hard all around the ice and seems to be getting a lot of support from Spezza (love it). Right now, he’s playing to learn and I’m really glad he’s getting that experience. I just don’t know why they can’t do that for a certain bearded young Swedish defenseman. I’m excited to see what Robertson can turn into as he develops into a more confident player within the pro game. He still plays very junior; chasing pucks around, taking shots from everywhere. It’ll come.
- The Leafs play the Jets three times next week.