The Toronto Maple Leafs opened up tonight honouring Börje Salming. One of the greatest Maple Leafs of all time, honoured with a statue on Legends Row, the first Swedish player named to the Hockey Hall of Fame, and his number 21 is retired by the Maple Leafs.

Maple Leafs honour Börje Salming

In his honour the Maple Leafs started an all Swedish starting line up.

William Nylander - Pierre Engvall - Calle Järnkrok
Rasmus Sandin - Timothy LIljegren
Erik Källgren

Last night the Leafs lost 4-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but showed up early this game, not unusual they are 2-0-1 on game 2 of back to backs so far this season. Penning the Canucks into their own ends for the first 2:30 before Vancouver ices the puck. testing Spencer Martin early and often.

The Canucks get down to the Leafs end, and after a faceoff next to the net they’re able to set up and Bo Horvat scores the first of the game.

1-0 Vancouver.

The Maple Leafs don’t quit, but give some of the ice up to the Canucks after that goal as Vancouver is energized to keep scoring. Denis Malgin comes in alone for the Leafs, but taps an easy save into Martin’s pads.

Malgin does it again, coming in with friends this time but can’t shoot until he’s behind the net, so that clearly doesn’t work. John Tavares goes into the Canucks end but gets stripped of the puck by Luke Schenn, The Canucks defense is doing a very good job of keeping the Leafs from getting very few quality chances tonight.

Michel Bunting is getting called for interference, after knocking over JT Miller without the puck. Leafs were getting shoved to the ground at the boards earlier, but sure. Call this. Miller drew the penalty and scores the power play goal 20 seconds in as the Canucks were given plenty of room to set up the play.

2-0 Vancouver halfway through the first.

John Tavares and Alex Kerfoot start to get things going for the Leafs again, with both of them passing around the Canucks zone, but shooting high stops Tavares from getting his 400th goal.

The Maple Leafs get their first power play chance with just over two minutes remaining in the period when Nils Aman is called for holding. The power play doesn’t go as well as the Leafs hoped with Bo Horvat almost getting his second of the game taking advantage of some nonsense.

No Leafs goal, and the second ends with a 2-0 Canucks lead.

Early in the second Quinn Hughes is called for hooking Auston Matthews, and Matthews takes this personally as he scores on the following powerplay, cutting the Canucks lead in half.

2-1 Vancouver.

We have some back and forth play, another missed chance for John Tavares for the next five minutes. Nothing huge, nothing of note aside from a nice defensive play by Matthews.

Then we get to a scramble around the Canucks net as Spencer Martin is scrambling around stickless, and the Leafs quickly move around to pounce the opportunity, and just as it feels like a goal won’t happen, Pierre Engvall scores to tie the game.

Game is tied midway through the second.

William Nylander and Auston Matthews pair up to almost get the lead, but don’t when Martin gets the pad out on it. The Canucks can’t clear and Jordie Benn, in his first game as a Maple Leaf, scores to give the Leafs the lead.

3-2 Maple Leafs.

It’s almost 4-2 as the Leafs really begin to push for the lead and put Spencer Martin to the test.

The Canucks make an effort, but Erik Källgren and the defense keep the Canucks away from the net, and most of the the remaining time in the second is spent with the Leafs moving the puck around. Until they get hemmed into their own end with five minutes remaining. Ekman-Larsson, Connor Garland get chances and test the Leafs goalie, but he passes without letting one in.

The Canucks draw a late penalty, getting Jordie Benn called for interference. Less than 90 seconds to go in the second period. The Canucks are getting space in the Leafs end, but no good chances. The period ends with about 30 seconds to go in the power play for the Canucks, and the Leafs hold onto their lead. 3-2 Toronto after 40.

The third period opens with the Leafs killing off that penalty, but then Timothy Liljegren takes one for puck over the glass, and we have about three minutes of power play time for the Canucks. Thankfully there’s no goal there.

Now, I’m not saying that the Leafs having Phil Kessels 400th goal called back made the Hockey Gods mad, but uh, John Tavares is having a real hard time getting his 400th goal.

All of the Leafs are working hard to get a safety goal on the board, but nothing is getting past Spencer Martin so far tonight.

The Canucks get another chance to tie the game with a power play goal, but get shutout on the opportunity. They’re all in, pushing hard for the tying goal making Erik Källgren work double time to keep the lead.

With two minutes to go the Canucks pull Martin for the extra attacker, and they play safe hockey to keep the Leafs from scoring on the empty net. Brock Boeser almost gets it, but gets denied. The Leafs are feeling the pressure, not being able to clear their zone.


They get the puck out with ten seconds to go, and get the win with a score of 3-2. A big second period did the job for them, with Jordie Benn getting the game winner in his Leafs debut.

Once again it wasn’t a dominant performance, it wasn’t what we expect from this team, but they got the win. I hate being “well, they won and that’s what matters” because it’s also how they win that should matter.

The Leafs next play the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night at 7PM.