This is the first game of a back-to-back for the Leafs and they can move back into third in the Atlantic with a win tonight. (Spoiler: they lost. They move into a playoff position anyway because loser point).
Both teams came out flying tonight. The first period was fast and exciting. Sloppy defensive play plus fast players makes for some fun back and forth hockey.
The Islanders struck first, less than two minutes into the game. Rielly and Zaitsev combined for an awful play in the neutral zone, leaving Ryan Strome wide open. Andersen gave up an huge rebound on the initial shot and Strome made no mistake on the second opportunity.
Nikita Soshnikov struck first for the Leafs. The Islanders defence was dreadful on this play. They let Soshnikov walk right into the offensive zone and fire off a slapshot unchallenged. Rielly and Zaitsev made up for their earlier mistakes combined for the assists on this one. Sometimes I forget about how great of a shot Soshnikov has.
Auston Matthews quickly rushed the puck up ice after an Islander's scoring chance and ended up with a 4-on-2. He and Rielly made a couple great passes to each other before Matthews fired the puck in.
New York managed to tie it up in the dying minutes of the first period. Gardiner and Andersen had a weird miscommunication behind the net and neither picked up the puck. On the ensuing cycle, the Leafs defence broke down a bit, and the fourth line capitalized. Nikolay Kulemin ended up sliding the rebound in, because of course it was him.
The Tyler Bozak line was great. Mitch Marner, in particular, created some great chances. I don't think I'll ever get tired of watching him play out there.
Pat Quinn. Sportsnet aired an intermission segment about Quinn and it brought back some memories. What a man. What a great time to be a Leafs fan. This was the team I grew up watching and the team I fell in love with. The Dark Decade really started with Quinn's firing and I'm glad we're finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Also fuck Artus Irbe.
John Tavares had a perfect pass to Matthews in the slot that he almost scored on. Can't wait until we get Tavares setting up Matthews every night ;).
Frederik Andersen did not have a great period. Gave up a couple big rebounds that ended up in the back of the net. He was fooled on a harmless looking Boychuk shot that fluttered wide.
The Rielly-Zaitsev pair gave up a big scoring chance to Tavares and Bailey on the shift after their goal against. It was not pretty. The pair also set up both Leafs goals, so I'll call it a wash, for now.
Mitch. Marner. What is there to say about Mitch Marner that hasn't already been said? God this kid is good. So good. On his goal, he found himself wide open and in the perfect place to receive Bozak's cross-ice pass and he made no mistake with his shot, firing it far side on Greiss.
Zach Hyman put the Leafs up by two on the PK. He jumped on a loose puck in the defensive zone and turned it up ice for a 2-on-1. He held onto the puck and shot it short side. Greiss probably should have had that one. I have to say, I had Hyman quite low in my T25U25 voting and he's really been winning me over this season. He's not the most skilled guy out there but he's just dogged on the puck.
New York got one back later in the period. Brock Nelson was able to walk right into the slot after Ben Smith failed to pick him up. Strome found him with a great pass from behind the net (Hunwick did a poor job of covering him there, too) and Nelson placed it in the far corner.
Andersen looked a lot sharper this period. He made a great, cross-ice save in the opening minute on a point blank Kulemin shot. Then, he made an absolutely ridiculous glove save on Josh Bailey's rebound shot on a 2-on-1. He made the initial save, was sliding to his right, and was able to lean back over and snag the shot with his glove. It's hard to fault Andersen on the goal he gave up, too.
The Matthews line had their chances. Matthews could have easily had another this period but he hit the post.
Special teams. The Leafs had their first PK and PP of the game in this period. They ended up with a short-handed goal and their PP wasn't too shabby either. Both units had great puck movement and they looked dangerous. They had some great cross-ice passes to Marner and Nylander on that right side, but they just couldn't convert.
The ice at Barclay's, but that's to be expected at this point.
Hunlak + Smith did not look great on the goal against.
Kadri's line has spent a lot of time in the D zone so far, which is interesting because Doug Weight has been trying to avoid the Tavares - Kadri match-up all night.
I don't know why I expected the Leafs to hold onto a one goal lead in the third period. Wishful thinking, I guess. Silly me.
It was beginning to look like they could close this one out but Bailey scored with a little over six minutes left in the game. It was a weird play, Dennis Seidenberg put a high shot on net and Andersen knocked it down with his blocker. It bounced around in the crease a bit, Anders Lee picked it up and passed it cross-crease to Bailey, who had an easy tap in.
The Leafs took the lead again with just two minutes left in the game. Connor Carrick, who was playing in his 100th NHL game tonight, made a great pass to William Nylander, who was wide open on the left side. Nylander easily put it in the open net. Greiss had no chance at all on that one.
You'd be forgiven for thinking that the Leafs could get through the next two minutes without another collapse. Tavares had an amazing chance on the shift right after the goal. He was right at the side of the net and it looked like he was going to tap it in but Andersen snapped it up before it could cross the goal line.
Of course, it was all for naught because Andrew Ladd scored right after that. With the net empty, Bailey sent it in on net and Ladd (who was wide open right in front of the crease) was able to direct it in. On to OT we go.
The post. The Islanders hit a couple of posts this period while down one.
The Leafs rookies, I guess. Five goals from five players tonight, all rookies.
The Leafs for being unable to hold onto two fourth period leads.
Well. That was...not unexpected. Both sides had some great chances to start the OT but the Islanders scored halfway through. Nylander was caught way behind the play, but made an effort to get back. JVR just gave up. Nelson scored. So it goes.
Well that was fun. Until it wasn't. Leafs are back at it tomorrow against Dallas. Hopefully they figure out how to defend between now and then. I'm really hoping we don't get a third straight game with eleven goals scored.