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Recap: Leafs beat the Predators in the last minutes

Matt Murray was player of the game for the Leafs in my book, though.

NHL: JAN 11 Predators at Maple Leafs Photo by Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Leafs host the Predators with a new lineup tonight. Auston Matthews and TJ Brodie and out, and Bobby McMann makes his debut.

First Period

Awwww, Bobby McMann’s dad got to fly in to join the Dad’s trip.

William Nylander tries the wraparound jam for the first fun chance of the night.

Matt Murray! Two saves on a breakaway and then he has to get waaaay over there to get the rebound shot.

Somehow the Leafs, yes the blue team, draws a penalty while hemmed in hard in their own zone.

In somewhat of a surprise, the first unit gets 30 seconds on the PP before the “and everyone else” second unit comes out. They can’t get out of the zone. It’s not pretty, and the first unit comes out again.

Nylander with a breakaway, and he’s the only bright spot for the Leafs so far.

The Leafs take a cross-checking penalty to offset the first one the Preds took.

Murray with a couple of great saves on the rush, and he sets up a rebound to be cleared both times. And the third time.

Okay, there is one bright spot other than Nylander:

The Leafs have turned the tide, but it’s very hard to score on the Preds these days.

Juuse Saros robs Liljegren.

(The Leafs are workshopping a 2D 5on5 attack.)

Whooo hooo. John Tavares wants a word with me about my talking up his ex-linemate.

1-0 Leafs

Wait, I’m told the video shows his ex-linemate made that goal happen.

Thoughts

A sluggish start gave way to some very dominating play, but the Leafs have the welcome man out in front of Murray on the very rare occasions the Preds get the puck:

Second Period

Nashville opens the second with a nice little run at the Leafs that culminates in this passing play that no goalie is going to get to.

Tie Game

Bobby McMann makes a great pass from flat out on the ice that results in a scoring chance, though.

Nylander with a great sneaky drop pass, and Engvall just nullifies it. This game is an argument for a forward trade of significance.

This is a weird officiating game. You can’t cross check, but you can slam a guy to the ice. You can’t set a pick, but you can trip anytime you like. Anyway, the Leafs to the PP, which looks exactly like you’d expect with no Matthews at short notice.

Pontus Holmberg is just so good.

And the Leafs get another power play out of a period of cycling into the Preds’ zone. This second unit is so bad, it’s obscuring how much trouble the first unit is having.

The superline is out in the final minutes because, yes, those two top lines are weakened, and it shows. They pull the Corsi even, but the score stays tied.

Thoughts

Surely one of the goals of the second half of the season is to have a second PP unit that functions. So far — not so much.

Third Period

Whoever wins the third, wins the game.

Sandin with a misplay:

Engvall makes an early appearance on the Kämpf line, so it should be interesting to see how the top six is arranged.

The answer is Alex Kerfoot moves up to play with Nylander. It was the right move as the Nylander line looks 50% more dangerous.

Nylander with a pass worthy of McMann:

Engvall takes a penalty for holding the stick when he can’t really handle Roman Josi. I have greater hope of a shorty than a Leafs PP goal, so this is actually fine.

A weird collision on David Kämpf, that is interference, gets a pass because... uh... it’s a headshot too, and ah...

No idea why that was not called other than the location relative to the play — which is dumb, to be clear. But perhaps the refs did not see it, and the linesmen didn’t want to take the responsibility in the huddle to call it.

And away Kämpf goes to concussion protocol. Adding insult to injury. Or is that injury to insult?

Seven minutes left, and you know, I’d love to see something from Mitch Marner that isn’t falling down.

Wow, McMann with speed, and a great pass to Sandin, but no joy. McMann does have wheels, and he looks pretty plausible in this game (maybe better than Hunt?)

Timmins with a turnover, and Giordano with a big save.

Now Rielly is down with a stick to the face. No call would have been made without the blood. The double minor covers off most of the rest of the period.

To the Leafs credit, this is a better power play than all the others. And yes, the Preds have good PKers, but that’s not really the issue here.

I, uh, think I’ll take credit for this:

2-1 Leafs

Murray does a little work to preserve the win, and Kämpf is back on the ice, so that’s all good.

The “still not traded” duo make some defensive plays to seal off this win at the horn.

Thoughts

Thank you, Mitch for the win, for no OT, for always having one play even in the games you’re kinda bad.

Next game is tomorrow night, see you then.