The Leafs start Calle Järnkrok on the Tavares line to get some cheers for someone besides Willy. (It was nice to hear the crowd loud for Marc-Andre Fleury in what many believe is his final NHL year.)
Joe Woll has to be sharp as the Wild show more energy right off the opening faceoff than they did in their entire game yesterday.
The Wild score first – unsurprising as the Leafs have been sloppy on the puck and defensively a little confused.
A good pass, a good shot, not great goaltending.
Leafs very nearly tie it up on a Tavares shot, but Mark Giordano makes a save.
Mats Zuccarello gets a roughing call, and the Leafs power play has Fleury working hard but no joy on getting one past him.
I don't think it's selective memory that every Leafs game starts with the other team running up the shot clock for the first half of the first period. It's 8-2 Wild at the 10 minute mark.
JT nearly ties it up again! Is this going to be a repeat of the "line 2 is the only line" meme?
The Wild take another penalty, a trip on Noah Gregor. If you're tripping a fourth liner, even the fastest one in the NHL, maybe you should rethink.
Well that was quick. Some guy named William Nylander sets up a beauty for Matthews. Not sure if the Wild player had even sat down.
Tie Game – Matthews is also now tied for first place in goals again.
By the way the SOG are now 10-9 Wild. Wild how this seems to always go like this. I guess we just have to accept it's inherent in the Leafs playing style.
There is more than one line. Matt Knies gets the glory on a Marner pass as Matthews is playing net-front goon.
2-1 Leafs – 400 assists for Marner
A slow start, a bad goal against, and not exactly stellar offensive quality to go with the growing quantity as the period went on. But it's enough to have the lead against the most tepid offence outside San Jose. Okay, I checked, they're the fourth worst in the NHL.
Second period, same as the first, with the Leafs allowing a lot of play in their own zone. McCabe goes off for slashing to make it a little worse. One minute for the Wild player dropping his stick, one for a makeup call.
Is it ever obvious the Leafs need another defender and forward who can PK.
Woll plays frantically well. He's too busy to look calm.
Knies, Matthews and Robertson as the very interesting and effective post PK line.
Brodie takes a high-sticking call, so it would seem the Leafs will finish the first 10 minutes of this period with one SOG (five Corsi so far).
Much better PK, as the Leafs keep the Wild from ever getting setup.
Mitch Marner takes a slashing call on Eriksson Ek, and the Leafs kill another one.
Woll with a great splits save.
Minnesota imposed their fun, speed, enjoyment, activity, emotion and effort dampening field on the Leafs, and they spent the period on the back foot. Six minutes of PK didn't help.
The Leafs start the period like they ended the first.
First line strikes again, with a great setup of Morgan Rielly.
The other Middleton gets one back:
I have to agree with Garry Galley about one thing. The Leafs are collapsing to the net defensively leaving the low to high pass wide open. Woll has been beaten twice from the borderline medium/low-danger zone, and there was another example right before this goal against.
Uh-oh. Brock Faber creates one, and Woll is just not involved, late to get across to cover an excellent pass and easy tap-in.
To their credit, the Leafs show zero sign they're satisfied with a tie.
The Leafs are now routinely leaving two or three Wild players uncovered in the Leafs' zone as they pile back to the net, but they're getting the puck under control fast enough to be getting away with it.
Woll getting praise while doing the RVH that Samsonov was criticized for yesterday. The key difference is how deep in the zone the Wild puck carrier is, making the choice the right one.
I thought this new defence system was specifically meant to stop the problem of someone ending up wide open as the Leafs collapsed. Have they completely switched back to their zone system, or are they just blowing coverage?
Joe Woll was really great at times – on the PK for example – but he also let in two long-distance shots, and was beaten clean by a cross-crease pass.
It's not the goalie, it's the defence! It's not the defence it's the whole team defending! It's not the defending, it's the goalie!
What if it's all of the above, eh?
Woll is so out of position out too far, and he somehow un-calmly scrambles out a save.
Leafs Win! You'll just never guess who.
Mo gets the watch.
See you Friday for the next game!