They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, so I’m pretty sure Cody Franson just wrote my recap for me. I’m sure he’s as frustrated as anybody; he’s having his coming out party this year, and he’s doing it on his childhood team. The issue? They’re not reciprocating, and just had another competitive yet very disappointing performance, losing 4-1 to the Carolina Hurricanes.
Were you expecting other than “the Leafs allowed the first goal”? If so, this postgame isn’t for you. Brad Malone opened the scoring for the Hurricanes seven minutes in, picking up a long rebound off of Jonathan Bernier’s pad. The good news? That 1-0 lead only lasted forty seconds. The bad news? It was replaced by a 2-0 lead, as Elias Lindholm rushed onto a breakaway after a James van Riemsdyk shot was blocked. David Clarkson then decided that the best response to this would be to punch Brad Malone in the face, which he was successful at doing.
Needless to say, it was a disappointing first period for the Leafs, and they needed to come out strong in the second. Forty eight seconds into said second period, Carolina struck again. This time, Eric Staal finished off a play initiated by Jiri Tlusty and middle-manned by Eric’s brother Jordan. Other than that, the period went pretty well; it was pretty back and forth, James Reimer looked good (after replacing Bernier), and unfortunately for the Leafs, Anton Khudobin still looked great.
Early in the third period, Dion Phaneuf took his frustrations out on Jordan Staal, landing a punishing check. Eric was not too happy with this and requested to fight Phaneuf, a challenge that he was happy to accept. With five minutes to go in the third period and two jerseys already tossed on the ice, Nazem Kadri finally ended the Leafs’ 160 minute scoring drought. That was as close as the Leafs got however, as Eric Staal sealed the deal by firing a slapshot as hard and as close to Phaneuf as he could get while still scoring into the empty net.
Let’s give this to Nazem Kadri. He was a 67% possession player tonight, and most importantly, scored the goal to snap the streak. That really was the game’s shining light; without it, this recap was literally going to be a bunch of angry photos and no words. Seriously – he replaced a picture of upset Leafs fans with “I’M SORRY” scribbled over it.
- That was Kadri’s first powerplay point of the season with David Clarkson on the ice with him. Go figure – I had just written about Clarkson’s ineffectiveness. It’s hard to say he helped though – this was very much a top-half goal.
- The Leafs now hold the second and third longest goal droughts of the season in the NHL.
- Eighty NHL players had more goals than the Toronto Maple Leafs from January 10th until the moment that Kadri scored.
- Outshooting the Canes is still a definite positive; despite being stupid cold, the team has held its own in tough situations in these past few games. It’s very frustrating, but there’s cautious optimism to be had as well.
- The combined cap hit of the Staal and Phaneuf fight? $15.25 million. The Leafs will have another chance to win at hockey on Wednesday, and then get a week off. Something tells me that they need it.