The Leafs made their once a year trek to Arizona to play a late night game and came out with their fifth win in a row, winning 6-3. The Leafs did it while playing in an arena built only for college hockey due to the dysfunctional ownership of the Coyotes, but it still had a visibly great atmosphere with the crowd basically all Leafs fans.

Here's my real-time recap of the game.

First Period

I woke up from my nap on time–Cathy will surely recall the one late game I signed up for where I failed to wake up until the second period–but this time I'm here!

It looks like 75% of the people in the arena are Leafs fans, and of course there's Auston Matthews' mom & dad in the crowd.

The game has not even started yet, and I am already annoyed at the coyote howl, though I'm sure by the end of this game the repeated promos for Law & Order Toronto will get to me even more. Oh, even worse now, they're playing that Habs Olé soccer song, UGH!

OK, finally the game begins. Oh, right, the Coyotes have Alex Kerfoot now, and also ex-Marlie Michael Carcone, good for him holding down an NHL job.

And that was fast. Two minutes in and the Leafs are up 1-0 already, and it's another goal from Bobby McMann. Boy, this guy is a good find, eh man?

Ah and our old friend Carcone is a slasher and so the Leafs get a power play and boy does Matthews want to get goal #50 here in Arizona in front of the family so bad. He doesn't make it work though and it's Nick Robertson who scores, but oops, Max Lajoie was offside.

The Leafs get time back on the power play and Matthews is out again and you'll never guess what happens next!

What an awesome shot on an impossible angle to get goal #50. Now onto 60, Matthews!

My attention wandered to Matthews talk in the comments and now I remembered we're not even 20% of the way through the game yet. Can we just end it now? It's already about 10:30.

Pontus Holmberg doing good fourth line work, carrying that puck deep into the zone, getting the opportunity for a shot before being swarmed, and killing off some time while they have a two-goal lead; very Freddy Gauthier.

Now the Coyotes have gifted the Leafs another power play with too many men on the ice and then they compound it when on the first faceoff Matt Dumba high sticks Marner right in the face and draws blood making it a four minute penalty.

Leafs going with the five-forward power play, starting with Knies, Nylander, Domi, Tavares, and Marner who must have glued his cut closed and of course they score. This time it's Willy getting goal #30 for the season.

The Leafs remain on the power play after that goal because of Dumba's dumb move. The Coyotes actually get a shorthanded break here but Timothy Liljegren says "NO!" Unfortunately, the Leafs don't convert on the remainder of the power play. But who cares, Kesselring highsticks Domi so the Leafs get another power play, but unfortunately don't convert and the period ends with the Leafs up 3-0.

Second Period

"It's 11:00 o'clock. Do you know where your Maple Leafs are?"

The Coyotes actually come out with some energy this period. And Samsonov has to scramble, probably for the first time in the game. We'll see if the Coyotes can sustain this without taking yet another highsticking penalty...

Oh, well this is a surprise turn of events, it's the Leafs who take a highsticking penalty... or did they? This will be controversial. John Tavares is quite certain he did not do anything wrong as it was Sean Durzi's own stick that hit his face (oh another ex-Leafs prospect I didn't notice was on the Coyotes).

The Leafs effectively kill off this power play with Samsonov being called into action several more times, but eventually a puck gets in the net.

Sheldon Keefe is still angry about the faux-highstick call.

Then we find out the Coyotes really have been able to sustain that energy we saw early in this period and suddenly the 3-0 game is now 3-2.

The decorum on the ice is now in rapid decline.

There's a scary moment when Logan Cooley was hit by Liljegren and his face got caught on the edge between the glass and the boards. Cooley was picked 3rd overall in the 2022 draft by the Coyotes, so he's actually still only 19 years-old. After getting help from the trainer on the ice it looks like he's OK

It's the second time Liljegren and Cooley have tangled up in this game. This was from earlier:

The Leafs are holding back the Coyotes a little better, and we should mention the other Arizona-born player on the Leafs wants a goal here too. Matthew Knies is really pushing to get something on the board. They have said he arranged for and chipped in on the cost for dozens of tickets for friends and family to be at this game. Will he get one tonight?

Well it's the other Arizona boy who gets it first in hilarious style. Matthews didn’t even have to try to score this one, his jersey procs the goal.

Uh oh. Fourth line shift and a penalty. Pontus Holmberg for tripping puts the Leafs on the defensive to close out the period and you'll never guess what happens with 7 seconds left in the period.

Oh and Nylander takes a penalty during all this so the Leafs will start the third period on the penalty kill again with only a one goal lead.

Frankly, we could use a Law & Order team to break down all the criminally bad plays the Leafs made during the last five minutes of that period.

Third Period

It's now past midnight here in Toronto. I have to be up for work in six hours. Please don't tell me the Leafs are going to now lose this game after having a 3-0 lead?

They aren't. Willy comes to my rescue right out of the box. I love it when he does that.

There's 13 minutes left. Get Knies his goal before the end of the game (and don't let the Coyotes score again, please.)

And they did it. Thank you, Captain!

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The Leafs really just ride out the rest of this game. I would love to write more here, but it's 12:45 a.m. and so we'll skip the last ten minutes of the game where very little happened.

LEAFS WIN!

Here's the final heat map for the game even-strength only.

Ephemera

Total number of Law & Order Toronto promos during commercials in this game (premiering tomorrow!): 5

I like Matthews' mother's glasses! Looks like a tortoiseshell pattern on the frame.

The next Leafs game is tomorrow, and it's another 10:00 p.m. start. You can look forward to the return of Morgan Rielly to the lineup after completing his five game suspension. See you tomorrow night, err wait... I guess that's now tonight?