Approximately 24 hours ago I was standing at about centre ice at the ACC watching Fall Out Boy. There was a lot of pyro. A lot. Much fire. What I’m saying, Leafs fans, is the ice tonight is likely to be shitty. That’s a shame, because these are a pair of very zippy teams, who can do a lot with a fresh sheet of ice.

The other thing everyone’s wondering about is, who’s in, JVR or Josh Leivo? It’s JVR. Sigh in relief or complain at will.

Oh good Sportsnet is setting up Marner vs Hanifin like that’s a viable storyline. Awesome.

No matter what Martina Ortiz-Luis tells you, there is no key change in O Canada.

First period

Andersen’s tested early as the Canes start off on the attack.

Jeebus. TVR to Josh Jooris for a one-timer and in-and-out that sucker goes from a distance. 1-0  Canes, two and a half minutes into the game

2-0 Okay I blinked and Teuvo Teravainen scored. Redirected off the knee of Jake Gardiner. Freddie looked  a bit hapless.

Leafs have got to settle things down. Bad news: they’re not playing a team inclined to settle. Good news: they’re not playing a team inclined to score, two quick goals notwithstanding.

The Matthews line, particularly Nylander, do their best to score but Darling’s not having it. Any one else forget who was in net for Carolina this season? I only remembered on Tuesday.

Both teams are making me exhausted just watching and we’re not even seven minutes into the game yet. Canes seem to be generally winning the fight for zone time but there’s a lot of zooming back and forth.

2-1  Bit of hard work by Marleau to keep the puck in the zone, some idiot leaves Matthews wide open in front of the net and good things happen for the Leafs.

Immediate attempt at retaliation from Carolina but Freddie has caught on to that pattern of score a goal, be defensively silly in reaction and is ready for it.

Brown has a shot right on but since Scott Darling is not actually a sieve, nothing doing.

First penalty of the game, this one for slashing (you’re all shocked) with 7:30 left.

Bozak is set up on the power play but whiffs and gives Kruger a shorthanded chance. Rielly bails him out.

The Leafs are trying to be too cute with their zone entries and Carolina are keeping those entries short. Not sure about shots on goal but it looked like the Leafs only had about two chances on that power play, while the Canes  got one. Not a great ratio on the power play.

Stunning glove save by Freddie  — I’m not sure how he even saw it — he was sprawled on the ice and suddenly his glove came up to snatch the puck out of the air. On the replay it’s clear he actually saw it all the way. Wow. I’m sure they’ll use that Hanifin shot in the Marner vs Hanifin narrative.

Dammit. Back from commercial break, they’re barely done dissecting that save and Lindholm sends one past Andersen. 3-1 Canes.

Leafs are trying to battle back but they look a bit gassed, everyone’s a tiny bit slower than they were at the top of the period. The Marleau line turns it on a bit in the dying seconds of the period but they can’t get anything past Darling.

Amazingly, shots are almost equal, at 16-15 in favour of Carolina

Second period

Slightly slower start for both teams but the Canes are still spending far too much time in the Leafs’ zone.

[Sidenote: fun thing to do is watch Jeff Skinner while he’s staying open for a play. He uses crossovers more than anyone on the ice. Put your hockey-inclined kids into figure skating lessons, parents.]

3-2 Moore! I was just bemoaning a missed chance between Matthews and Nylander when Moore and Martin got on the ice and connected for a goal that wasn’t ugly but was maybe more due to determination than anything else.

If Darling could stop being quite so good in net... thank you Scott.

3-3 Zach Hyman ties it up! (I want it on the record that Fulemin earlier in this game was saying that no one was getting 4 goals past Darling.)

Leafs are determined they’re not going to lose this one, drive the net as a unit and stuff Darling into his own net. Oddly enough, the goalie belongs in the net, they don’t give you a point for doing that. I’m a little surprised they didn’t give anyone a penalty for it.

About halfway through the period Carolina penned the Leafs into their own zone as if it was 6 on 4 or something. I thought a goal was inevitable but eventually they got a whistle and I could breathe again.

The commentators talk about Derek Ryan on the Canes and pump the tires of CIS hockey, apparently unaware that Canadian university sports have been rebranded as U Sports.

Carolina are not big fans of opposing players having the puck in front of their net. Leafs come close a few times, but get mired down by the Canes defense.

Ughhhh. Fanny Rask’s brother takes advantage of a mess in the Leafs zone that takes away Andersen’s eyes and sends a hard shot in just past Freddie. 4-3

Little brother Victor now has four points in eight games, while Fanny is slightly off her usual point-or-more per game pace with nine points in 11 games in the SDHL.

At this time we’ve noticed Martin has missed a shift or two and was spotted going down the tunnel. No idea why. (He was back for the third and I never did hear an explanation.)

Scott Darling continues to be good whenever the Leafs break through the Carolina defense. It’s really annoying.

I was clearly wrong about the quality of the ice tonight, kudos to the ACC staff on that.

Again, shots almost equal - this time in the Leafs’ favour 12-11.

Third period

The only thing good about the start of this period is watching Skinner pivot like he still wears toe picks on his skates.

16:07 left and Brett Pesce flips a puck right out for the second penalty of the game, Leafs on the power play and.... never mind, faceoff penalty we’re 4 on 4. Kadri’s in the box. (Was that really a faceoff violation? Oh, who knows)

Marner’s on the first shift and  the space is good for him. Matthews and Nylander combine for a chance next shift and nearly make it. Leafs definitely look better than Carolina like this but we get back to five on five without a goal.

Every time the Matthews line is on the ice I’m certain this game’s not over yet.

Aw man Kadri almost scored.... and there come the Canes the other way on a 2 on 1 and McGinn fires one past Andersen. 5-3

We get treated to  a flashback of some of Skinner’s childhood figure skating and a replay of some nice footwork that led to a chance earlier in the game. (One of the reasons I took this recap is that Jeff Skinner’s skating is a joy to watch. )

Oh look Skinner uses his lovely footwork to evade about three Leafs,  gets the puck to Jooris and it’s 6-3.

Posts are mean. Can they get three past the Canes’ defense, goaltender and their goal posts?

Less than two minutes left in the game and the Leafs take their second penalty because when better? Jordan Staal obliges us all by getting a call and the game ends 4 on 4.

Credit to the Leafs they still don’t look like a team down by 3 with less than a minute and a half left - they look like they think one more push could win it. Sadly, they’re wrong.

Babcock  was mixing lines up in the third — how much of that was due to trying to limit JVR’s ice and how much of it was due to other factors I don’t know.

And in the end Fulemin was right — even the Leafs couldn’t get four goals past Scott Darling and  that defense. Can we go back to Cam Ward as their starter please?