It was the first game on 2023 and the Toronto Maple Leafs
The game started with the Blues scoring nice and early. They attacked the Leafs net like a badger on a baked ham, but Samsonov stayed strong.
However, the Blues scored a shorthanded goal nice and early. Justin Faulk tripped Mitch Marner and instead of the team with the full line scoring, Brandon Saad scored a shorty to put the Blues ahead.
The Blues control the first half of the period, dominating offense and blocking shots. The Leafs aren’t quite up to speed. They get a second chance on the power play after another tripping call is made, this time it’s Tyler Pitlick against Zach Aston-Reese.
No power play goal but they got one good chance and didn’t let the Blues score, so the better of the two.
Jarnkrok had an empty cage but shot high pic.twitter.com/uMW5YCqEMq— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 4, 2023
The Blues get their own chance on the powerplay, when Michael Bunting is called for hooking Brayden Schenn. Schenn is the good luck charm here, as in the final seconds of the power play Schenns skate deflects a Jordan Kyrou shot into the Leafs net. The Blues have scored on the power play and penalty kill to make it 2-0.
Brayden Schenn makes it 2-0— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 4, 2023
it went off Kerfoot and then off Schenn pic.twitter.com/noAZwlfnf5
The Maple Leafs start to push back against the Blues as we get within a couple minutes of the end of the period. Mark Giordano has a good run to the net which is stopped, but after the Blues dump it out, Alex Kerfoot shoots from the blueline, and Pierre Engvall redirects it mid-air to put it past Jordan Binnington and cuts the Blues lead in half.
The Leafs push hard for the final two minutes, getting the crowd nice and loud as they come close to tying the game. They don’t, however, so it’s 2-1 St. Louis as they lead 10-8 in shots.
Nylander steals the puck and the to line come close to getting the equalizer pic.twitter.com/pxhHUvBC9J— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 4, 2023
The second begins much better than the first, with the whole time spend in the Blues zone. The Leafs don’t get any goals, or any solid chances, but the time down there ends with John Tavares being called for high-sticking. The Blues power play keeps on rocking, with Jordan Kyrou scoring to make it 3-1.
William Nylander however cuts the lead down to one less than a minute later.
That assist from Auston Matthews was his 500th NHL point.
It’s not all celebrations, as before this goal Rasmus Sandin tripped over a falling St. Louis player and hit the boards. He left the game after this.
Rasmus Sandin went to the locker room after going face-first into the boards pic.twitter.com/NDw0WGcUC2— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 4, 2023
The Maple Leafs are taking it to the Blues more and more as the game goes on...
But the Blues are staying just ahead of them and they forecheck their way into the Leafs zone, and then we get the obligatory former Leaf goal when Josh Leivo is the one to put the puck in the net.
The Maple Leafs once again respond right away, as Michael Bunting scores to make it 4-3.
The Blues aren’t putting up with this, and Brandon Saad scores his second of the game.
5-3 St Louis.
I hope everyone likes goals!
The Blues are controlling the game, despite the flashes of offense from Toronto, nearly doubling them up in shots as the second period starts to come to a close, but the Leafs are getting their chances and Auston Matthews scores his 501st point with his 19th goal of the season.
AUSTON MATTHEWS— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 4, 2023
34 HAS 501 AND ITS 5-4 pic.twitter.com/YM1hggIEXT
After the goal we go back to spending plenty of time in front of the Leafs net, and when they escape their own zone the Blues defence is doing a good job of keeping the puck away from the net. The second period ends with the Blues up 5-4, leading in shots 24-16.
The Leafs come out to the third period looking for the tying goal with shots and attempts happening and the first few minutes spent in the Blues end.
Hunt working the puck in the offensive zone pic.twitter.com/Tjx3y30754— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 4, 2023
We get some nondescript back and forth hockey for a while, and then, according to the Blues commentary, Michael Bunting “sprains his beck embellishing a slight poke to the chest to draw a high sticking call”. Bloo bloo Blues. Anyway Bunting scores on the power play just to rub it in.
There has been a lot the Leafs and Blues have done this game that has gone uncalled— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 4, 2023
that said, Bunting isn't drawing a call for a while pic.twitter.com/795Kwn7CQr
Tie game midway through the third period.
The Maple Leafs have done a good job in the third defensively, the Blues haven’t had a shot on net in the first twelve minutes of the period, and the Leafs have had seven and one goal.
The Blues pick up their game with Jordan Kyrou getting a shot on goal, good for them! The five minute mark is when the teams pick up the pace and stop playing safe as they trade chances up and down the ice.
It seems like Michael Bunting and David Kämpf may have collided in front of the Blues net, and Bunting leaves the ice, slowly making his way to the Leafs net.
Mitch Marner has a chance to score on a distracted Binnington, but the Blues defense is right there to tie up his stick. It’s ok, because Ilya Samsonov is paying attention and makes a solid save right after that.
Both teams hold on, and the third period ends with a 5-5 tie. Just like last game, the Leafs and Blues are heading to overtime.
The Maple Leafs play it slow in overtime, passing daintily in the defensive zone before Matthews and Nylander go on the attack. The fist two minutes of three on three is spent circling the Blues zone, not letting them make a change, but Binnington makes the needed saves.
The Blues finally get a puck and put Samsonov to work with Schenn and Buchnevich taking multiple shots each but are denied. Both teams are going all out now, but it’s a goalie show in overtime tonight.
It’s time for a shoot-out.
William Nylander shoots first: The puck rolls off his stick. No shot. Not goal.
Jordan Kyrou: Denied. Glove save.
glove save from Samsonov in the shootout pic.twitter.com/MnoW3c2sKK— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 4, 2023
Auston Matthews: Easy backhand over the glove.
Robert Thomas: Waits patiently and goes fivehole.
Mitch Marner: Fancy, fancy, stick handling, scores.
Pavel Buchnevich: Comes close to not scoring, but does. Ties the shootout at one each.
Rasmus Sandin: First ever shootout attempt, Binnington tries to pokecheck but he kicks the puck out of the way at the last second.
Brayden Schenn: Snipes from the slot. Game winner.
The St. Louis Blues win this one 6-5 in a shootout. It wasn’t a great game. The Leafs were chasing the Blues all night and ended up losing in a shootout.
We need to see better from this team, but the injury bug may be moving on from defenders to the forwards. John Tavares as absent for a lot of the end of the game, Michael Bunting with his collision. Getting a bit nervous myself.
Also Samsonov isn’t the shining star he was in the fall. Winter has come and frozen his save making ability somewhat.
Well, the Leafs have a chance to do better on Thursday night as the Seattle Kraken come to Toronto for the second time ever. Too bad they aren’t still terrible.
See you then!