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Leafs turn a strong 3rd into a win over the Devils

Solidly played game by the Devils for the full 60 minutes capped off by a very good performance from Akira Schmid.

Toronto Maple Leafs play the New Jersey Devils in front of a small group of fans as Ontario begins to relax restrictions Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Here come the Devils! I’m upset Leafs-killer Miles Wood isn’t playing, but mostly I’m feeling sorry for their goalie/worried he’ll do a number on us.

First Period

Oh, well, this is going well.

The Devils open with a lot of really vigorous activity, and the Leafs are doing Leafy things in their own zone where everyone is over there when no one is over here. Pavel Zacha gets one past Jack Campbell.

(Watch both defenders watching it go in from the same, wrong side.)

1-0 Devils

Leafs finally coming to life after five minutes of game time.

Or, uh, not.

The Devils are simply outplaying the Leafs in all zones here. And this is the result:

2-0 Devils

Campbell with a rebound he can’t handle, partially the author of this chapter in the saga of the Leafs looking weirdly terrible against weak teams.

And Matthews gets one back almost instantly. Mitch Marner missed a shift before this one, which is likely about nothing, but the broadcast thinks it’s why this goal happened. (Which is hilariously dumb.)

2-1 Devils

Yikes, Matthews with a rocket off the crossbar. It was a hard enough shot to dent the post, someone should check.

Devils get a very successful flurry and only the post saves the Leafs.

Oh, Timme. Timme, Timme, Timme. First he goes on a lovely rush, drops it off for a forward, and they damn near score, and then he lets Andreas Johnsson roll him over. Dermott succumbed too. It chases Campbell.

3-1 Leafs

I think this is a timeout via goalie change, although Campbell has been weaker than the team in front of him, who are terrible. Now this mess is Mrázek’s. Also we made all the 3-1 jokes last game, what are we supposed to do now?

Guess who scores next? Guess.

3-2 Leafs

Lovely passing from everyone on this charge down the ice.

Engvall playing in place of Kerfoot for one shift.

Spezza to Kerfoot (see above) and it almost goes in, too. The Leafs look a bit more like themselves in the offensive zone.

Mrázek is his energetic self, but gets the job done, and what could have been a disaster looks like a setup for a top-line hat trick instead.

Thoughts

  • Jack Hughes is a really fun player
  • When Auston Matthews is really, really, sick of this shit and wants to win, he’s kind of scary.
  • Not sure Washington did a smart thing letting Siegenthaler go. He looked fairly plausible playing a bigger role than he normally would.

Second Period

Mrázek opens with a good save, and the game might be on track. A Matthews line shift helps with that.

Engvall still on the second line, which is another attempt by Keefe to solve a real problem without the resources to truly fix it. Engvall immediately turns the puck over, and Brodie and Rielly almost lose it too. This team is cursed the last two games.

Matthews with another hard shot that just seemed like a rocket for the sake of it. He’s allowed.

Nylander with the puck, sees Engvall open. Nylander pauses, rings it around the boards.

Ah, it was too good to last, the Mrázek as saviour era. The puck is bouncing and deflected and no one can see it but the goal-scorer.

4-2 Devils

Tavares comes close to scoring as Schmid ends up behind the goal line a bit. They review, but no dice.

The Engvall experiment has ended the way they all do, just another entry in the laboratory notebook.

The Leafs power play gets an outing, but no dice there either.

The Tavares line with Sandin try to get something going and every single one of them take too long to decide what to do with the puck, and they have three Devils on them like gnats.

The Devils get their power play, and Mrázek comes up big on Hischier.

And again while on his back, he keeps the puck out. Not the best PK the Leafs have ever laid down.

Kerfoot gets a rush as the power play and the period are almost done, but the Devils take a penalty trying to stop him.

That power play will be mostly in the third period.

Thoughts

  • By Corsi and Expected Goals, the Devils are solidly mediocre (that means dead centre in the rankings). They need a bit more talent players and consistent goaltending to move into playoff team territory, but they’d be there now in the west.
  • Are you blaming Jack Campbell? Do you think the Leafs are getting goalied, reversed goalied, other goalied?

No, no they aren’t.

Third Period

The Leafs get nowhere near a good scoring location on this power play. The Devils, who are young fast and fun, are still the Devils, and they know how to box out an attack.

Toronto takes a penalty just as their power play runs out on a fairly dumb hook/slash from Spezza.

The Leafs easily kill the penalty Leafs-style, but have to start up with the PK unit plus Spezza in the D-zone.

Oh, niiiiice. Spezza pays us all back for that penalty.

4-3 Leafs

The Leafs are trying to turn up the heat, and Schmid has it covered.

Trying to remember the last team that made the Leafs work this hard to get a zone exit. It’s been a while.

The Matthews line again! Marner this time after Matthews wins the faceoff and keeps the play alive after.

Tie Game

Kaše steps out on the ice and trips Hughes. Leafs on the PK with just over four minutes to go.

Oh, yes! That right there is just beautiful.

Kerfoot gets the puck shorthanded and Mr. pass first really sold this shot.

5-4 Leafs

Deadline trade thoughts changed for anyone?

Leafs get a power play for the last two minutes as the Leafs get busy in front of the Devils’ net.

Matthews gets the hat trick with an ENG.

Thoughts

  • Akira Schmid might be the real thing.
  • I guess the Leafs don’t give up now.
  • Very, very, extra very strong game from the Leafs top line. Marner was so good, Bunting didn’t really have to do much.

Next game is tomorrow in New Jersey.