Let’s see how the Leafs with a rookie goalie in only his second career start can fare against one of the top teams in the NHL, oh yeah they’re also without that Auston Matthews guy again and I heard he’s pretty good.
GO LEAFS GO!
Carolina gets a good chance right away, as they cycle in the Leafs’ end and Källgren lost his stick. Leafs got a bit lucky that the Canes player couldn’t get it past him when he was all alone in the slot.
Leafs have done a good job getting time in the Carolina end, but the next best chance went to Carolina again as they had a 2 on 1. Källgren looking sharp early. Lyubushkin got caught on a bad pinch. Leafs were outshot 5-0 in the first seven or so minutes.
Are you allowed to spike pucks into the net? pic.twitter.com/4CQ5X2Ag8v— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 17, 2022
It’s been all Carolina for most of the first period. They’ve had a few rush chances, good cycles, and while Källgren has made every save so far he’s had some juicy rebounds and pucks go through him, but wide.
After killing off a Lyubushkin penalty, the Leafs finally get their first good chance of the game with Bunting all alone in front.
Tavares finds Bunting off the offensive zone turnover pic.twitter.com/JsGlWFW505— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 17, 2022
GET GOALIED CAROLINA! ILYA MIKHEYEV WITH A CHEEKY BACKHAND THAT BEAT FREDDIE AND THE LEAFS ARE UP 1-0 DESPITE BEING OUT SHOT 12-4!
Bunting takes a roughing penalty and the Leafs are back on the PK, but they wind up getting the best scoring chance on a 2 on 1 led by Rielly. Leafs kill it off and the period ends with the Leafs up 1-0.
First Period Thoughts:
- Shot attempts: In the immortal words of a great ancient philosopher: “Not great, Bob!” Carolina was dominant at controlling the puck, holding a 17-11 edge in shot attempts at 5v5. Leafs never had many extended shifts in the Carolina end, while they were relentless generating rush chances AND hemming the Leafs in their own end.
- Expected goals: It was not much better when it comes to expected goals... they were tied at 50% xGF share at evens, but Carolina had a 82% overall edge because of their powerplays. The fact it was closer at 5v5 is a sign the Leafs did okay at limiting their actual scoring chances, which the heatmap bears out.
- Special teams: The one good thing going for the Leafs is that they took two penalties, but killed them both off. If we’re expecting some make up calls.... eyyyyyy.
- Standouts: Källgren stopped everything Carolina threw at him, especially on the powerplays. Mikheyev had the goal, and... that’s about it. Not a stellar showing by the Leafs.
Leafs starting the period continuing the trend from the first one... with Källgren having to make some tough saves after Carolina hemmed them in.
King Erik robs Skjei with the left pad pic.twitter.com/0kCRSUJDa9— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 18, 2022
Källgren takes the shot high and covers the puck up pic.twitter.com/YCZ2gZ9smm— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 18, 2022
GOOD GOALTENDING LEADS TO GOOD GOALS! MITCH MARNER SNEAKS A WRISTER OVER ANDERSEN’S PAD TO MAKE IT 2-0 TORONTO! HE SHOT ON A 2 ON 1 AND IT WORKED!
MITCH MARNER— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 18, 2022
24th of the season through the five-hole pic.twitter.com/baX7KnII93
Marner got another good chance after the goal, and the Leafs suddenly are playing better and more even with Carolina.
But they have some luck going their way too, as Carolina hit the post in tight on Källgren. But what they DON’T have is the refs calling penalties going their way, apparently.
Play has calmed down between both teams, not a lot of shots or scoring chances either way for a stretch of a few minutes. Not a lot of whistles either. Things got a bit dicey in the final minute of the period, but the Leafs escape with a 2-0 lead going into the third period.
Second Period Thoughts:
- Shot attempts: It was a much more even period, in fact it was tied 18-18 in shot attempts at 5v5.
- Expected goals: However, the Leafs somehow lost the quality battle even worse than in the first period, with Carolina controlling 62% of the expected goal share despite even shot attempts.
- Special teams: There were no penalties called in the second period, somehow.
- Standouts: Källgren again stood on his head at times, making 2-3 real good saves early in the period. The fact that Marner scored to increase the lead after Källgren weathered the storm for them was huge. He’s keeping them in the game. The top line is doing the best job controlling play at evens.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before... Leafs start the period hemmed in, not able to sustain any offensive pressure. This time, Källgren couldn’t keep the puck out forever, but it took a bit of a flukey goal to beat him. Leafs turn the puck over trying to exit the zone, Carolina counter attacks lightning-quick, and a blocked shot bounces right onto the stick of Ethan Bear who beat a surprised Källgren to cut Toronto’s lead to 2-1.
Ethan Bear puts Carolina on the board pic.twitter.com/Y8qaN2FoTJ— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 18, 2022
Right after, Carolina was again in Toronto’s end but a high sticking call will put the Leafs on the powerplay with a chance to increase the lead. Leafs can’t score, but THEY DO SCORE RIGHT AFTER! KASE CAUSES THE TURNOVER, KERFOOT PASSES IT BACK TO KASE, TO A STREAKING WILLY AND NYLANDER SETS UP KASE FOR THE 2 ON 1 SNIPE! 3-1 LEAFS LET’S GOOOOOOOOOO!
Sigh... Leafs get caught with a bad change that caused a too many men penalty. Justin Holl got off, and both Liljegren and Sandin jumped on at the same time. Leafs kill it off, and Mikheyev and Kase had a good short handed rush chance the other way. We’re at 8 minutes to go and the Leafs are maintaining a two goal lead.
Leafs get a glorious chance off a rush with Tavares and Engvall, with Tavares getting a good shot after some dangles and Engvall almost having the puck batted in off the rebound.
Tavares powers through and Engvall nearly makes it 4-1 pic.twitter.com/D0pywhBBAj— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 18, 2022
Carolina pulled Andersen with three minutes left, and they began teeing off on Källgren. They were peppering the puck on net and the Leafs were never able to corral a rebound and get it out for almost a full minute. Carolina helpfully iced the puck, forcing Freddie back in net and the Leafs with some breathing room.
Hurricanes score with three seconds left in the game to make it a one goal game, though its being reviewed for the whistle maybe being blown? The goal is good, but it won’t matter with so little time left. Leafs hang on thanks to Källgren for a big 3-2 win against a top team without Auston Matthews.
- Shot attempts and expected goals: May as well combine these for the game. Leafs were slightly dominated through the game overall in both, by around 57% in shot attempts and 55% in expected goal share. They had their moments, but it did feel like Carolina definitely controlled play more.
- Special teams: Leafs were perfect on the three penalty kills they had, which is more important than not scoring on the one powerplay chance they had considering...
- Standouts: Källgren, Källgren, Källgren, and I guess the top line and third line.