It was a low-scoring, flat, and frustrating win for the Leafs fans who stayed up to watch Toronto just barely keep their shutout-less streak alive late in the third period, and to witness Auston Matthews scoring his 30th goal of the season to win the game in overtime against the Anaheim Ducks.
The Leafs threw 104 shot attempts at Lukas Dostal over 62 minutes of hockey, including five power plays. And of their 57 shots on goal, they got #50 and #57 to hit the twine at the back of the net. John Tavares tied the game on the power play with five minutes left in regulation, and Matthews scored his league-leading 30th goal of the season in overtime. Frank Vatrano capitalized on a poor turnover by the third line for Anaheim's lone goal.
Here's the story of the game.
But more importantly this one and that spot of red in front of Martin Jones that caused so many headaches.
The Leafs got an early power play when Drysdale took a slashing penalty. Matthews had three good chances and uncharacteristically (or unfortunately) didn't convert on one of them.
Simon Benoit in his return to Anaheim making a good play on a 2-on-1.
Bertuzzi was getting some attention on the broadcast after his multi-point game last night. However, it's not points that correlate to Bertuzzi's value for the Leafs, but instead the effort, won pucks, and plays made on both sides of the ice.
And the same goes for rookie Matthew Knies, especially since he's not a first overall pick.
It was a very drowsy first period that had very good odds of sending you, dear reader, to bed. Hopefully things got more exciting in the later 40.
Shots were 21-17 in favour of the Leafs, but they had a much stronger advantage in terms of shot locations. Expected goals were 67% in favour of the Leafs, and they had seven high danger chances to Anaheim's one. This was all at 5v5, on the Leafs lone power play, they took an astonishing 12 shots (six on target), good for 1.3 expected goals, but bounces didn't get the puck over the line.
Harlem Globetrotters shift for the Leafs as they had possession in the offensive zone for a minute and a half.
Lyubushkin fought McMann for a hit into the boards on rookie Pavel Mintyukov. After the fight, McMann was given a 5 minute major for boarding and a game misconduct. His game was done. Mintyukov also left the ice, down the tunnel for medical assessments. Lyubushkin got a 2 minute minor for instigating.
What this meant for the game was 4v4 for two minutes, and then a three-minute 5v4 power play for Anaheim. Pontus Holmberg served the major penalty for McMann.
I thought the penalty was fair. I'd like to see more of those hits result in ejections. That, and the fight, also wrapped up any retribution potential from the Ducks, by design.
During the 4v4, Marner took a long shot that Dostall deflected off his mask.
Marner had a breakaway, but his slap shot was stopped by the blocker.
Nylander was out shorthanded and hit the post on his shot attempt.
For much of the game, it's looked like the Leafs were on the power play when it was 5v5. Now with the Ducks on the power play, the Leafs are playing them like it's even strength – and it's working.
Killorn didn't listen to the refs to cool off and took a penalty after a whistle, ending the extended power play and giving the Leafs one after a short bit of 4v4.
Vatrano scored "shorthanded" just as the 4v4 ended after Domi and McCabe jumped ahead for a chance at offense after Drysdale fell, leaving a mile of space behind them. Drysdale kept the puck ahead of him and McTavish found Vatrano for the goal. Bert tried.
The Leafs got some shot attempts on their power play, and on another when the Ducks took a too many men penalty (other teams do it too, and the Leafs haven't in a while).
Continuing to chip away and not cheating for offense would have been my speech during the intermission. Because cheating leads to goals against like in the Domi-Vatrano case, and you don't need to cheat for offense against Anaheim because it's Anaheim and they suck! Roll the dice enough times eventually it'll come good.
My question for Brad Treliving would be if Max Domi can't beat the friggin Ducks on the ice (33% of shots after two periods, -1), what benefit to offense can he bring?
The Leafs gave up as quality of chances to the Ducks as they earned themselves. The game opened up, the Leafs got sloppy, and it led to a bad enough mistake to get scored on. Expected goals were 52/48, with Anaheim gaining the advantage in all situations.
Benoit took a penalty early for high sticking, but the Leafs killed it relatively easy with another shorthanded shot as well.
Bertuzzi and Vatrano both got roughing penalties for their antics after the whistle. I'm quite happy for these uptight refs. Call more, that's better than letting calls go for reasons unknown.
Speak of the devil, another power play for the Leafs. They got up to 41 shots at this point, including a healthy number of posts.
Throughout this game, once the Ducks got their lead, they sat back very deep in the neutral zone to squeeze out passing attempts. Considering their chances of scoring again were low, it was their only chance to win.
Another power play with seven minutes left. Drysdale tripping Kämpf.
Tavares robbed on the rebound by Dostal right off the faceoff. The Ducks are stacking three defenders against Nylander, one in front of Marner, and being aggressive on rebounds in front to clear any away. That's all protecting Dostal who was giving up those second chances.
Tavares scores! And the non-shutout streak lives on to Game 181 after that brief scare. The Ducks eventually failed to clear a rebound and the Captain was there in front. Assists to Rielly and Nylander on the PPG for Toronto's 50th shot on goal and 95th shot attempt of the game.
IT WAS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME.
I liked this angle of the goal best.
The Leafs got an even 100 shot attempts before regulation ended and we headed to Overtime. The Leafs top four forwards combined for 59 shot attempts, the rest of the eight forwards (led by Knies with eight) had 23.
Jones with a big stop on Fowler after finding the rebound from Vatrano.
Matthews with a shot the other way.
And Auston Matthews wins it with his 30th goal of the season!! Ballgame.