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Nylander redeems the Leafs’ blown lead in the shootout

Another poor effort and a blown lead, but not a loss!

Toronto Maple Leafs v Vegas Golden Knights Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Toronto Maple Leafs blew a two goal lead in the third period, but pushed the game to a shootout, which William Nylander won for the team with a final score of 4-3 against the Vegas Golden Knights. Nylander, Auston Matthews, and Ilya Mikheyev (the big three) scored for the Leafs in regulation, with Nylander getting the only goal in the shootout. Jack Campbell stopped 31 shots in the win, with Robin Lehner giving up three goals on 15 shots.

Not a good night for the Leafs, but some scoring luck and some overall luck got them the two points.

The Leafs had a good start to the game, but not much else as footspeed and penalties were a persistent problem. No, it wasn’t the refs. Can’t really blame the refs when you shoot the puck over the glass and put too many men on the ice. Somehow, they scored twice in the second period, and kept the Golden Knights from scoring in the third to secure overtime and eventually the shootout.

First Period

1-0

Willy woke up the crowd back home with a smooth operation on the Knights defense and Lehner in net. A lot of the work before the goal was done by Rielly, who blew past the flat-footed Knights forwards in the offensive zone, and gave Nylander a perfect pass under the stick of Marchessault before the smooth operator did his thing. Dylan Coghlan wasn’t in the same league trying to stop Willy.

The Leafs got a power play not long after, with Howden taking a holding call on Dermott. The Leafs had a couple good chances, including Nylander finding an errant pass before feeding Tavares for a chance, but no goals came of it.

Matthews got a shot a little later in the period, but he hit the crossbar. We couldn’t hear the ping on the broadcast because there appeared to be some audio issues — or maybe TSN was broadcasting the game remotely and didn’t have all their mics set up on the ice.

1-1

At the end of a power play against Zach Whitecloud, Nick Ritchie took a needless hooking penalty on McNabb. Early on the penalty kill, Keegan Kolesar beat Campbell on the short side after a weird bounce of Kerfoot’s stick. Sloppy special teams for the Leafs early.

Matthews was, once again, having some fun on the rush. He seems to really like getting those stretch passes from Kaše and Bunting. I think it works for them.

Another turnover and Matthews had yet another big chance. Lehner did well to back up into his net and get the glove on it. Impressive chance, impressive save.

After One

Despite Ritchie and the penalty kill mishap tying the game, it was a fabulous first period for the Leafs. They out-shot the Golden Knights 19-7, including 10-3 in scoring chances. Unfortunately, Lehner was really good, especially against Matthews. Meanwhile, Campbell was a little loose around the net. He was caught losing his post more than a couple times.

Second Period

The first line was having a great time off the rush.

Campbell was making some desperation saves in the second, mostly out of his own necessity. The Leafs got caught in their own zone for a minute and a half after failing to get the puck out a couple times. Then they got an icing and then another icing. Nylander, Tavares, Kämpf, Brodie and Rielly were all stuck out in the defensive zone the whole time. Rielly had a full three-minute shift.

Basically from that shift onwards, the Leafs were nowhere on the ice. They weren’t skating as well, they definitely weren’t passing as well, and they were getting surrounded by shots. After another moment of chaos, Muzzin air mailed a clearing shot right into the stands for a penalty.

The penalty kill almost felt like a bit of a reset as the team found their focus on defense. Namely Rielly and Brodie, who did a lot of work cutting off plays and clearing the puck on the first PK shift. Rielly gets a lot of guff for his defensive results, but he definitely puts in the effort and knows where to be. Sometimes when you’re playing top lines it’s not enough, but he’s better than he was.

2-1

There you go! It was long overdue, but Matthews finally got that goal he rightfully deserved in the first period. It wasn’t one of his usual wicked snipes, but it was a slick 160 degrees pass (I measured it) from behind the net by Kaše and a pass across the crease from Bunting to give Matthews the chance.

3-1

See, I had a feeling I was going to like this third line. They played another possession shift in the offensive zone, with Simmonds doing a lot of heavy lifting behind the net and in the slot. He eventually got a shot off that bounced off Lehner and right to Ilya Mikheyev, who tapped in his fourth goal of the season. Usually the third line doesn’t score from all their possession, but Mikheyev is on a heater right now so everything’s going in.

After Two

A lot of people, myself included, didn’t like that second period. But really, it was only the first half of the second period. After the Muzzin penalty kill, the Leafs looked reset, refreshed, and brought on a lot of good 5v5 play.

At its worst, shots were 4-14 in favour of the Golden Knights, but after that point in the middle of the period, shot attempts were 7-7 and that’s when the Leafs got their two goals. Their play improved and it saved them from spiraling out of control.

Third Period

3-2

Kerfoot took a penalty near the end of the second and it carried over into the third. On the shift following, Kerfoot tried to double-team Reilly Smith, but lost the puck battle and William Karlsson scored alone in front.

3-3

Clifford got called for tripping midway through the third period looking for the tying goal. During the kill, Kaše got a breakaway, but couldn’t elevate the puck in time to beat Lehner. As he scrambled back to the neutral zone, there was confusion at the Leafs bench and they put five guys back on the ice. Too many men, and the Golden Knights scored on the 5-on-3.

After Three

The Leafs didn’t seem to have the legs in the third and needed Campbell to keep going to overtime. I’m writing fast now because I’m tired and I want to go to bed. Why are we getting free hockey tonight?

Overtime

No one scored in the overtime, but the Leafs had the best chances. Mark Stone was complaining for a while about Sandin holding the puck in at the blue line, which he thought didn’t happen. Matthews had a couple good chances after that play.

Shootout

  1. Dadonov - stopped by Campbell, right pad
  2. Spezza - stopped by Lehner, five-hole
  3. Stephenson - stopped by Campbell, glove
  4. Matthews - stopped by Lehner, right pad
  5. Marchessault - stopped by Campbell, stick five-hole
  6. Nylander - SCORES AND WINS THE GAME, same move as his first goal!