The Leafs jumped a whole two points ahead of the Edmonton Oilers today, but the reasoning behind it makes it worth it. Several of Toronto’s remaining trade chips had solid nights tonight, as the Blue and White defeated the Carolina Hurricanes by a score of 3-1.
Despite the Hurricanes being red-hot of late, the Leafs were able to control this game from the start. It certainly helped that Jordan Staal and John-Michael Liles took the first two penalties of the game; the latter of which played to the benefit of the Leafs. On that second powerplay, a shot by Morgan Rielly made its way to the front of the net, and while Colin Greenings original attempt to push it past Cam Ward was unsuccessful, Brad Boyes swooped in to finish the job and grab his seventh goal of the season.
The Hurricanes ended up tying the game up a few minutes later thanks to a make-up goal from Liles, but that still left 45 minutes of hockey to be played. early in the second period, Viktor Loov sent PA Parenteau and Josh Leivo flying with a breakout feed, and the pending UFA set up the Marlies call-up for an easy one-timer to regain the lead. in the third period, Parenteau was the benefactor of a similar play, as Nazem Kadri set him up for his sixteenth of the season.
The closing minutes were full of rough stuff, presumably as the Canes realized that a comeback was out of reach and decided to take their frustrations out on Nazem Kadri, who had injured Andrej Nestrasil with a clean hit earlier in the game. It wasn’t overly eventful outside of some pushing and shoving, however, and the two sides eventually let the buzzer sound and went their separate ways.
Parenteau among the Leafs who lingered after warm-up and high-fived fans. Last home game as a Leaf?
— Lance Hornby (@sunhornby) February 26, 2016
There’s a very good chance that was Parenteau’s last home game in Blue and White, unless the Leafs don’t find a suitor (extremely unlikely) or he decides to come back in July (anything is possible). It may have been one of his better ones too; while he was put an advantageous position with cushy zone starts, he still managed a 60% Corsi-For, and more importantly, was a key part of two of the team’s three goals. Hopefully, he finds a temporary team that can appreciate his depth scoring as much as the fans here have appreciated his ability to bring flashes of excitement in a dreadful season.
This may also be the last Toronto Home game for the likes of Brad Boyes and Jonathan Bernier, who also had great nights. Michael Grabner? Well, he played. Still, they’re all good soldiers and deserve an opportunity to have some fun this spring.
See You Next Time
One more before the deadline! The Leafs will now head to Montreal to take on the Habs on Saturday night. This is a must-lose game; deadline tire inflation aside, the Leafs absolutely can’t let the Habs have a chance at Auston Matthews. Granted, they’d likely take Pierre-Luc Dubois with the first overall pick anyway, but they can’t take that risk. See you then!
PS: Sorry to everybody who lost that prop bet tonight. I thought Kadri was due!