The Toronto Maple Leafs are taking on the Washington Capitals tonight in what we all assume will have a basketball game type score. Which means it’ll probably wind up a 1-0 shootout win. Let’s find out!
Well, it took all of 18 seconds for the Leafs to give up a 2 on 1 and a goal. Andersen made the first stop but Stephenson put in the rebound. 1-0 Caps.
Not long after Rielly draws a penalty, and the Leafs promptly give up a 2 on 1 shorthanded that Andersen gloved. After more passes to no one Babcock pulled the first PP unit for the second one. The second PP unit didn’t do any better, but at least didn’t give up any odd man rushes.
Dermott goes to the box for a... questionable interference penalty. Kapanen almost has short handed chance but tries to kill more time by passing it back, except he passed it to Ovechkin. Rielly thankfully broke up his rush back the other way.
The game has settled mostly, with each team trading some zone time and chances. At least by my eyes. Tavares and Hyman each had great chances in front but couldn’t get a clean shot off.
Lindholm rings a shot off the post, and Kapanen has a great chance in front that Holtby saves. Leafs are finding their game as the period goes on.
First period impressions:
The Leafs, as is their wont, started the game slow and lethargic but did respond as the game went on and played an even period partway through. Babcock is probably wondering what animal he has to sacrifice in order to have his team start the game like they actually realized the game has started. But by the end of the period the Leafs wound up with the edge in shot attempts, but behind in scoring chances.
The second period starts even, with both the Leafs pushing a bit more to tie the game up. About four minutes into the period, they do! Hainsey takes the point shot and the Leafs get the goal! Did Hainsey get his third? No... it looks like Kappy Bara got his second goal on a nice deflection. 1-1 tie game!
Right after that the Leafs take a penalty, and Kuznetsov snipes a goal over Freddie’s shoulder to make it 2-1 for the Caps. Boooooooooooo.
The Leafs fall into a lull for the middle part of the period, as the Caps get the better of the shot attempts and scoring chances and start pulling ahead. What’s that Jim Hughson? The Leafs are one of the better second period teams? NEWS TO ME!
The Leafs do get some chances of their own, with Tavares and Marner having some chances in front that they just can’t get a clean shot off. They’re starting to close the period strong, getting back some scoring chances and shots.
But a minute before the end of the period, they do tie it up! Par Lindholm with a sweeeeeeeeeeeeeet tip in the slot off of a Gardiner point shot, and it’s all tied 2-2 now thanks to Lindholm’s first career NHL goal!
Second period impressions
The Leafs started the period off strong, but in the middle they fell asleep at the wheel again. Washington is a good team with a deep offensive lineup — they just won the Cup for chrissakes! — and they dominated play until sometime around the halfway point of the period. It’s to be expected that the Leafs can’t just dominated a quality team like this, but you’d like to see them a bit more in control than what happens during their lapses.
Finally, the Leafs start a period with a prolonged, concerted effort. They came out flying and established some offensive zone time, with a few good chances and dominating with shots on net during a tie game.
A quarter of the way into the period, Tavares draws a penalty by getting hit in the face by a stick. Babs sends the second unit on first, and they actually score! A rebound comes to Leivo and he puts it by Holtby. Literally one second before that happened I said out loud “I don’t understand why they use Leivo on the point”, so thank you for making me look stupid Leivo!
Right after Zaitsev takes a hooking penalty and the Caps are the ones that go to the PP. Both teams played even with a bit of back and forth. With about five minutes left in the game the Caps made a hell of a push to equalize, but the Leafs survive with their one goal lead intact. Andersen has been great this game. October Freddie? Bah!
It’s a good thing too, because Matthews scores again! Rielly does a slap pass to Kapanen, who deflects it through Holtby for Matthews to tap home the puck into the empty net. 4-2 Leafs. I got so excited I spilled my beer all over my crotch.
The Caps pull the goalie for the rest of the game, and they get one good chance on Freddie near the end but he holds the fort. Leafs win 4-2! And they finally got most of their goals from guys not named Matthews or Tavares!
It was a pretty back and forth game, but the Leafs held strong and pushed back when they needed to. They finished with a slight edge in CF% at even strength but a bit behind in scoring chances. After their sleepy start though, they played them much better. They really just need to iron out their lapses, in this case the start of the first period and the middle of the second.
The Matthews line dominated for the Leafs. They finished at 70%+ shot attempts, and a similar ratio of scoring chances. The fourth line got absolutely murdered, with Johnsson and Gauthier only having 1 shot attempt in the ~7:00 even strength minutes they played the whole game.
Oh well, a win’s a win and they did pretty well overall.