The Toronto Maple Leafs scored six unanswered goals (where have we seen that before) against the Edmonton Oilers in a massive four-goal second period (also familiar) en route to a 6-2 victory.
The game brought good news and bad news. Which do you want first?
Good news: Andreas Johnsson led the way with two goals. His teammate Mitchell Marner picking up three points, while resident pyjama-wearing snake John Tavares notched a goal and assist. It was also a big night for William Nylander, who should’ve gone home with a goal and two assists of his own, but was only rewarded two points. His linemate Patrick Marleau scored his second multi-point game in three nights. Frederik Andersen was big in the first, before being uncontested in the second and third, stopping 34 of 36 for the win.
Bad news: Kasperi Kapanen looked like he injured his shoulder in the middle of the second, but would eventually come back and finish the game. Fellow former Marlie Travis Dermott also injured his shoulder, but this was a much more malicious event that forced the 22-year-old defenseman out of the game, and possibly out for the next several.
More good news, the Leafs are now only one point back of Boston with the chance to pass them with a win against the long-faced Islanders (and a Lightning win over the Bruins).
The first five minutes of the game were pretty even, if you ignore the fact that the Leafs got no shots on goal. Unlike Monday against the Buffalo Sabres, Toronto did a good job of keeping the Oilers to the outside, especially Connor McDavid. Tobias Rieder looked like the best Oilers player on the ice — he had a big chance that Frederik Andersen quickly parried away to start a rush the other way — but he has no goals this season, so LOL.
Despite looking good in the early goings, Morgan Rielly’s tough play cost him position and he ended up taking a hooking penalty. On the power play, Leon Draisaitl walked into the zone, faced Ron Hainsey, and was just barely able to walk around him before banging home his own rebound past the outstretched pad of Freddy Andersen. Connor Brown tried to help, but did pretty much nothing. I honestly thought with the slow speed of Draisaitl Hainsey was going to be able to stop him. Clearly Hainsey thought so too, because he slammed his arm against the boards in frustration after the goal went in.
Later, Alex Chiasson was called for slashing, sending the Leafs to a power play of their own. The Marner unit didn’t do much, but when the Nylander unit came out, all hell broke loose. From behind the goal line, Nylander found Connor Brown in the slot and fed him a pass. Brown was falling back and completely whiffed on the chance, but Muzzin was there to back him up. As Muzzin threw the puck on net, Patrick Marleau skated across the face of the goal and fired the rebound home past a bewildered Koskinen.
For much of the period, the shot differential on the screen was utterly terrible. However, if you include the grade-A chances the Leafs got (including the sweet solo rush by Nylander) the picture of the Leafs period was much better. By the end of the first, the Leafs were only behind by four in 5v5 shot attempts (14-18), despite the shots being 6-13. It must also be said that the Leafs led 8-6 in scoring chances in the period, despite the lack of shots on net.
EDM vs TOR— Hardev Lad (@HardevLad) February 28, 2019
all sits shots on goal: 2-15 -> bad
5v5 shot attempts: 10-12 -> honestly, not terrible.
Get the puck on net, boys. #Leafs
*Sportsnet had the shots at 15-2 for a second, then suddenly changed to 13-4 exactly after i tweeted this out, so don’t @ me.
Right out of the gate, the Leafs were flying. Exactly a minute into the period, Hainsey threw a great stretch pass to Zach Hyman in the neutral zone. Marner burst ahead and redirected Hyman’s shot-pass around Koskinen and in for the first Leafs lead in the game. I cannot emphasize how hilariously awesome it is that — for the second game in a row — a player generally devoid of offense (like Frederik Gauthier) sent a gorgeous stretch pass for a goal in the second period during a big offensive push by the Leafs.
The play started with Matthews stick-lifting Ryan-Nugent Hopkins and stepping into the Oilers zone. he then sent a lateral to Kasperi Kapanen while Andreas Johnsson burst to the net. The two former Marlies superstars connected for a beautiful goal, extending the Leafs’ lead. This really does feel like the Sabres game from Monday.
And again! With Darnell Nurse in the box for slashing, the Nylander power play unit came out, got in the offensive zone, and scored! This time, it was all Nylander, and he got the puck in through a tiny, puck-sized hole in the top corner from the goal line. What a shot!
And just like on Monday, the Leafs got the goalie pulled early in the second after a flurry of goals. Mikko Koskinen coming out for Anthony Stolarz.
Not long after, Kapanen and Oscar Klefbom were chasing after a puck. Kapanen hit Klefbom’s skate with his own, throwing him off balance and into the end boards hard. The referee immediately came over and he had to be helped to the bench. Kapanen stayed on the bench for a shift, but was taken to the dressing room during the commercial break. Dear Lord Stanley, we better not lose him for long. Not with Nazem Kadri and Jake Gardiner out, too.
Despite Leafs Nation having their hearts in their throats at the thought of losing Kapanen, it didn’t slow down the Leafs. The Oilers started to get increasingly frustrated, and Colby Cave (who?) took another penalty, this time it was a careless interference penalty on Jake Muzzin. Whilst on the power play, Tavares, Johnsson, and Marner were hounding the front of the net, eventually getting the puck to Johnsson in the slot, who sniped it top shelf for his second goal of the game.
Late in the period, Leon Draisaitl took another careless penalty on Muzzin, this time high-sticking. With seconds to go in the second, Matt Benning allowed himself to give two hard cross-checks into the numbers of Tavares, the second of which were called. We then headed to the third period where the Leafs would have a 5v3 advantage.
The Leafs were very good throughout the second period. At 5v5, they had more shot attempts (18-12), shots (10-7), and scoring chances (11-5). By the time the fifth goal went in, the Oilers looked absolutely defeated. They were giving pucks away, running guys, and looking like the 80s Oilers of today were on the bench.
That face says it all pic.twitter.com/qfaLSsu7Py— Flintor (@TheFlintor) February 28, 2019
Tavares got his revenge on Benning (which I hope is a sign of things to come) when he scored his second goal of the game on the 5-on-3 power play. Assists went to Marner and Nylander, who was playing the point. you know, I like that idea a lot. I know Nylander has been outstanding running his own power play unit with a bunch of Marlies and Marleau, but having him as another play-making option on the first unit, especially when you desperately need a goal, wouldn’t be the worst idea.
I’m wasn’t sure where to add this GIF from Omar showing all the times Morgan Rielly told Connor McDavid to fuck off, so I’m just going to throw it in the middle of the third here. Anyone else think McDavid is just going through the motion? Only 88 months and one day to go before freedom!
And in a 6-1 game, 29-year-old journeyman Brad Malone shouldered Travis Dermott hard into the boards, hurting Dermott badly. The 22-year-old in his first full NHL season was writhing on the ice in severe pain as the trainers rushed to get him off the ice. Malone went straight to the dressing room, but was called back for some reason. That reason ended up being the referees not thinking he deserved a penalty.
In the dying minutes of the game, Zack Kassian bowled over Freddy Andersen in the crease, and allowed RNH to score his 20th goal of the season (Matthews, Tavares, and Marner all have more with Kapanen and Johnsson both at 19). The goal should’ve been called back, but the referees allowed it. Whatever, still a blowout.
Hopefully we’ll have good news come out about the Dermott injury. As of right now, all we know is that he was pulled from the game.
Travis Dermott will not return tonight due to a shoulder injury. #LeafsForever— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) February 28, 2019
It’ll be a week-to-week injury for Dermott. Martin Marincin will be recalled from the Toronto Marlies and play alongside Justin Holl tomorrow against the Islanders. Igor Ozhiganov will sit.
Babcock says Dermott is week-to-week. Holl and Marincin will play tomorrow in NYI— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) February 28, 2019