It’s HNIC, and the Sabres came to Toronto to escape the snow. Let’s get right to it:
Already tired of hearing about how tall Tage Thompson is, but I think he’s a really interesting player, and he keps the puck away from the Leafs very easily.
Three Sabres players below their own goal line to keep the Leafs from doing anything with the puck. A thing I’m watching for is very tight defensive bunching from the opponents like the Devils used.
The Matthews line gets a rush chance, and ... Michael Bunting ends up taking the shot with not viable rebound resulting.
first shot of the night for the Leafs comes from Bunting pic.twitter.com/bIdoPQHk1z— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) November 20, 2022
Auston Matthews steals the puck in classic style and the guy taking it in is Bunting, who can’t score on Ukka-Pekka Luukkonen (UPL from now on).
what a pass from Matthews to Bunting pic.twitter.com/D2biGCuWA7— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) November 20, 2022
Leafs get a big flurry of shots on UPL after a very tepid start.
Leafs get the first power play on a bad choice by the Sabres to take an offensive-zone penalty.
I was cueing up a complaint about Matthews playing second defender on the power play, and boom, JT scores with his shinpads on a Marner shot (it all happened because Matthews moves up):
JOHN TAVARES— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) November 20, 2022
DOUBLE DIGIT DEFLECTION pic.twitter.com/SNkPmDxKn9
Everyone on the Leafs are finding it easy to get the puck away from the Sabres who don’t play with quick wits a lot of the time.
The Leafs fairly consistently maligned third line has a great shift, scores a goal, and pisses off the “too many men” purists as well.
CALLE JARNKROK— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) November 20, 2022
What a pass from Engvall! pic.twitter.com/KqaxPYgS8G
JT is tired — he’s old, you know — so he trips Owen Power and sits for 2 min.
Oh man! Mitch Marner on an epic shorty break. He’s just frickin’ amazing at this, and he drops it back to fellow rush artist Mark Giordano who shoots it.
what a chance here, leads to a delay of game pic.twitter.com/trBAZajX4W— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) November 20, 2022
The result is a delay of game penalty to Alex Tuch, and that was a goal, I think because I have this special blue filter on my monitor, you see, and... Oh wow, they overturned the call on the ice for that one, and it’s a goal!!!
MARK GIORDANO— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) November 20, 2022
the puck was going in pic.twitter.com/nwg1hVPwou
That was too pretty not to count.
- The fix is in conspiracy theories will be hot enough to melt all the snow in Buffalo.
- The Leafs had 46% Corsi and 63% xG, and that quality imbalance is very unusual. On the pace of the game, it looked even, but it really wasn’t:
- Auston Matthews with an outstanding period.
Kampf takes the puck to the net— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) November 20, 2022
good follow-up chance for Engvall pic.twitter.com/CYKuhUnDoH
Rasmus Sandin takes an “unable to defend the guy” penalty.
Marner with the first shot of the Sabres power play, of course, and the Sabres never get a shot on goal.
Sheldon Keefe is rotating his defence pairings a little. Giordano is with Liljegren.
Matthews takes a penalty for a collision with Casey Mittlestadt that could be seen as accidental with that blue filter on.
Matthews got called for *checks notes* illegal check to the head pic.twitter.com/yAsBmSH30t— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) November 20, 2022
Matt Murray has to work harder on this one, and as the penalty is almost done the most likely thing happens: the Sabres score the next goal.
Alex Tuch scores off the deflection pic.twitter.com/VmMADbVHnk— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) November 20, 2022
The revenge of Alex Tuch, I guess.
William Nylander takes a high-sticking penalty to make this game more interesting for Buffalo fans.
Murray working again, and he’s been very good this game.
Alex Kerfoot on a very important breakaway as Murray is without his stick, and he gets an age to retrieve it. It’s not visible on the broadcast, but I think a Sabre helped that stick travel farther away from Murray.
shorthanded breakaway for Kerfoot pic.twitter.com/dMIAE8GR3q— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) November 20, 2022
And now for the revenge of Nylander:
WILLIAM NYLANDER— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) November 20, 2022
GETS THE FINAL TOUCH pic.twitter.com/6pe9S3N0ZJ
There’s some Dahlin v Matthews at the end of the period, so we’ll find out if an intermission cools them off or not.
- Jordie Benn is very good on the PK, but in a traditional way. The Leafs don’t play a traditional PK, but they could be chocolate and peanut butter with a little work on it. He tries to clear the puck when he should be moving it to a forward ready to break. He clears it too hard and the forwards end up deeper offensively chasing it than they should.
- The Sabres are not quitting, that’s for sure, and this is going to be an exhausting lead to hold for the Leafs.
Matthews goes for Jeff Skinner, so that’s now something that could be something, and the Sabres almost get an own goal.
Auston Matthews drops Skinner pic.twitter.com/oItv6bd6Tj— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) November 20, 2022
wants to be a Leaf pic.twitter.com/Et9u3B6YZ8— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) November 20, 2022
The Leafs are doing a very uncharacteristically excellent job of defending when they have to, and leaving off the offensive pressure to hold the lead.
Nylander again with a beauty:
WILLIAM NYLANDER— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) November 20, 2022
10TH OF THE SEASON pic.twitter.com/yHPYtyUSsH
Liljegren takes a late penalty and Buffalo gets a chance to get one more goal before this is over.
I refuse utterly to engage with this silly “book on Murray is high glove” nonsense after 10 goals against.
And the Sabres do get another goal, just not on the power play.
Casey Mittelstadt makes it 5-2 pic.twitter.com/L4j9ThzCRK— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) November 20, 2022
(better re-write that book)
The Leafs get a couple of grade-A chances in the final five minutes.
Rasmus Sandin draws a penalty to end the game on the power play. Awwww, they tried to get Willy the hat trick, but it wasn’t to be.
- Murray looked very good.
- In terms of controlling play, the Leafs played the Sabres to a draw at five-on-five, and won the game with the power play.
- Bit of a redemption game for the depth players too, who were all good.