Just like the old west, this game was all shots, no defense. The Toronto Maple Leafs walked into Texas and beat the Dallas Stars 7-4 off the back of two goals from Auston Matthews and John Tavares, as well as offense from Kasperi Kapanen, Mitchell Marner, and Ron Hainsey, surprisingly enough. Frederik Andersen stopped 30 of 34 for the win, and was two saves better than Stars goalie Ben Bishop, who stopped only 24 of 30 on the night.
Matthews and Tavares may have taken all the glory, but this game was all about Kapanen and Zach Hyman getting them the puck and winning puck battles in crucial moments of the game. The two were instrumental on on the goals scored by Marner, Matthews, Tavares, and Hainsey.
Babcock asked a lot out of Kapanen two nights ago, after the victory against Chicago. It appears he delivered in this game.
Interesting quote from Mike Babcock tonight on Kasperi Kapanen: “We'd like him to decide he wants to play like Hyman, that's what we'd like him to decide to do. Get to the net, be on the inside all the time, bring it every single night. If he can do that, he can play a big part.”— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) October 8, 2018
Par Lindholm is a player who no one in the NHL has really seen, but right away I can tell why Mike Babcock wanted him on his team. Lindholm is a good skater and plays a very smart game. I haven’t seen him out of position once when his team is in transition, he’s a strong forechecker, and he fights for the puck in the neutral zone like few on the Leafs. We haven’t quite seen what he can do offensively, but as a fourth-line center — or a third-line winger like tonight — I am very happy with what he brings.
Mitch Marner! You get to play in the third period, even if it’s past your bedtime! Marner may have shot that puck, but Zach Hyman got the Leafs that goal. The whole play started off a lost faceoff by Tavares against the weirdly bearded Jamie Benn, but good puck recovery by Hyman — who got to the puck before the Dallas defenseman — allowed them to stay in the offensive zone and get Marner the puck.
Marner’s initial shot wasn’t very strong, but Hyman forced his way in front of his man and was able to push the puck back to the slot for Marner to step into and shoot, and ultimately score.
wHy dOeS bAbCoCk lIkE hYmAn So MuCh— Acting the Fulemin (@ATFulemin) October 10, 2018
On the second line’s second shift, Tavares won an offensive-zone face-off, and Marner nearly got his second on an open net because Mark Methot pushed Hyman through Ben Bishop and onto the ice. The shot went wide, but Tavares was able to retrieve it with miles of space in front of him. He nearly beat Bishop with a slick deke, but lost the puck because of a quick Bishop poke-check. Marner followed up and tried to shoot from a bad angle, but the net was knocked off before he could score. The shot was going wide anyway, in my opinion.
Like most goaltenders in the National Hockey League, Frederik Andersen tried to go behind his net and play the puck, and he made a mess of it. Andersen had pressure on both sides, but was going to get to the puck first... until the puck skipped over his massive stick and went to Mattias Janmark. His quick shot went right through the crease and out the other side, much to Freddy’s pleasure.
Stay in your nets, goalies. Please.
Jake Gardiner (I’m sorry to say) was unfortunately slow to react to the Stars’ top line when he stepped onto the ice for Morgan Rielly. Alex Radulov was able to step by Jake and throw a knuckle-ball shot off the stick of Nikita Zaitsev and past a helpless Freddy. The bouncing puck didn’t hurt Freddy the first time, but it definitely did this time.
AUSTON MATTHEWS IS A LEAF! But also, KASPERI KAPANEN IS A LEAF!
We — and by “we” I mean “Mike Babcock” — wanted Kapanen to become the Zach Hyman of his line, and he has shown that he can be the puck-retrieving hound now that he’s on the first line with the NHL’s leading scorer.
As one of the fastest players in the NHL, Kapanen came streaking in off the rush and took a quick shot on Bishop. The rebound fell close to him and he was able to follow it and muscle Valeri Nichushkin off the puck. He quickly found Matthews, who quickly found the back of the net for the Leafs’ second goal of the game, their second lead of the game, and Auston’s sixth goal of the season! 6 GOALS IN 4 GAMES!
The Leafs owned that first period, as they should have. The Dallas Stars are a lot like the Leafs, but without a few extra stars at forward. A high-event, run-and-gun squad who believe defense is nice. After 20 minutes of play, the Leafs lead in shot attempts (27-16), shots (12-10), and scoring chances (15-7). Not bad, Buds. Not bad at all.
Auston Matthews is something else pic.twitter.com/s5S3d03WlE— Flintor (@TheFlintor) October 10, 2018
Dear lord, Hainsey, take a seat. Hainsey tried to make a 50/50 play against Tyler Seguin with no one covering his back behind him. He loses fairly handily and doesn’t have the pace to get back and stop Seguin from beating Freddy Andersen five-hole. Babcock is a stubborn man. We have to be patient when it comes to taking Hainsey off the top pairing. It’s going to happen, but we have to be prepared when it doesn’t happen right away.
The other Freddy, the goat kind, played in his first game of the season in this one and he looked... unbad! Frederik Gauthier is a big man, but he was able to keep up with the pace of play fairly well, he used his size in the offensive zone creatively to win battles, and he doesn’t look like doesn’t belong. That’s in the offensive zone.
In the defensive zone, there have been several shifts where his line (with Josh Leivo and Tyler Ennis) was stuck in the defensive end and they couldn’t win a puck battle in the corner or for a rebound to save their life. So, yeah, I hope Andreas Johnsson comes back into the lineup soon and plays well.
Auston scores again. This time, with Benn in the box for roughing, Matthews took a shot from his home at the right face-off dot, off Radek Faksa, and past Bishop. Auston has seven goals in just four games. Along with three assists, Matthews has been the best player in the league.
Matthews, with 7 goals, is outscoring 9 NHL teams.— John Matisz (@MatiszJohn) October 10, 2018
The Leafs were unable to get anything going on their next power play, mostly because the second unit came out first. But following the power play, Babcock sent out a line of Lindholm - Goat - Kapanen, and they came out with the goods. Zaitsev tried to sling a pass to Lindholm, but he missed the tip.
Fortunately, Kapanen was coming into the zone with speed and was able to negate the icing. He sent the puck around to the point and Hainsey’s point shot beat Bishop. It was a bad goal for Bishop to give up, but they all count for the Leafs.
With Roope Hintz in the box for playing the puck with his glove off a faceoff, Marner did the “Mitch Thing” and sent a beautiful pass to Tavares, who simply had to touch the puck into the net. Oh, my god, this team is going to score a million power play goals.
The Leafs’ power play might be heart-stopping, but the Stars’ is pretty good too. With Patrick Marleau in the box for hooking, the Stars’ top unit went to work. Seguin to Radulov to Benn in front of the net and in. Wow, it’s pretty hard to stop that, too.
Holy crap, power plays are exciting. Five goals later, including three power play, and the score in this game has ballooned to 5-3. The Leafs’ power play is clocking at 50% (5/10) so far this season and the first line’s average time before scoring a goal must be close to 30 seconds. They’re dominant.
The Leafs had the lion’s share of chances in the period, but the Stars beat them in terms of shot volume. There were a few fourth-line shifts in the period that were pretty shocking. The Leafs trailed in shot attempts (12-20), shots (5-14), and scoring chances (8-13). That shot differential definitely doesn’t look good.
With the faceoff in the defensive zone, the Stars’ first line goes out on the ice against Rielly, Hainsey, and the Tavares line. Seguin won the draw, and Radulov skated around the net and fed John Klingberg for a point shot. His shot got past Andersen, but it looked like there was some stick interference on Benn’s part on the Leafs’ goalie. The play went to review, but the call on the ice stood.
And the second line scores again! The Leafs had a little trouble getting the puck out of their own zone for a difficult minute, but on Tavares’ second attempt, he chipped the puck in the air and sent Hyman off on a foot-race with Methot. From behind, he wins it, letting Marner to grab the puck. Marner sees Tavares streaking into the zone late and gets the puck across to him. Tavares notices he doesn’t have space to shoot from the bad angle he was given, so he skated around the net and got the puck to cross the line off the wrap-around. A crazy, wild set of plays to start the third period, and these two teams are at 10 goals, which is only a few more than Auston in the year!
There may not be any defense going on in this game, but wow Freddy! Shoutout to Goat or Ron for allowing Fred to give us such a nice highlight there.
FREDWARD pic.twitter.com/kDOOpkVHTW— Flintor (@TheFlintor) October 10, 2018
With four minutes to go, Jim Montgomery pulled Bishop for the extra man. A minute later, Rielly was able to get the puck in his own zone with time and flip the puck towards the empty net. Brown chased after it and got himself a Brownie Point (which is the new official name for empty-net goals, courtesy of Brigstew), and the Leafs a three-goal lead.
And with that goal, Captain Morgan has 10 points in four games. Norris?
Bonnor Crown gets the assurance goal. 7-4 Leafs. pic.twitter.com/Q7TulkNd4k— Flintor (@TheFlintor) October 10, 2018