Leafs Postgame: The Kids Come Through, Toronto Wins in Shootout


John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

As you probably already know, we at TLN have fully endorsed the tank. I mean, if you go to www.thetanknation.com, it brings you back here. We are committed to the cause. 

But you know what? Toronto won tonight, and it was hella fun. After six straight losses, it was good to see the Leafs’ youngsters and newcomers come up big against one of the Eastern Conference’s top teams. Toronto takes it 4-3 in the shootout.

The Rundown

The Islanders definitely got out to a strong start tonight, but this was a tremendously even, back-and-forth game. New York is a much, much, much better team than Toronto, but the Leafs’ young roster did a great job of trading chances and keeping things close. In a 4-3 game, both teams held a lead but neither ever held a two-goal lead. Good times.

Of course, this game was probably more fun for Leafs fans than it was for Islanders fans, with each Toronto goal having some sort of feel-good significance. In the first period, Zach Hyman buried a garbage goal in front for his second career goal. In the second, Morgan Rielly went shelfie from the high slot on his 22nd birthday, while also tying his career high 29 points (in 15 less games). And lastly, in the dying moments of the third period, William Nylander scored his own second career goal to tie the game up at 3’s and send it to overtime.

In the shootout, Garret Sparks stood tall against each shooter he faced and, in the fourth round, Nikita Soshnikov finally put one past Thomas Greiss to secure the win. 

Blue Warrior 

Nazem Kadri had two assists tonight, but you know what Naz? It’s not your birthday. Sorry bud.

Morgan Rielly gets in tonight. He was skating well, defending well, and that powerplay goal in the second period was no joke.

Next Up, Ottawa

The Leafs will be back in action Saturday night – it’s Hockey Night in Canada from Ottawa as the Senators play host. Tune into CBC at 7:00 pm.

One Last Thing…

  • CMpuck

    i recall me saying something house before the game on the pregame article:

    #4 jay
    March 09 2016, 04:37PM

    leafs will pull off a win by the grace of god! the rooks will have a great game and we will win.

    the rookies finally get a win! sparks was bad tonight but that’s going to happen especially with a young goalie. nylander played his best game. hyman was strong and the 4th line played very well tonight. besides that 1st period giveaway, kadri was strong. marincin and rielly were excellent. i know it’s only one game but they played better in one game together than rielly-hunwick ever did all season. hunwick better not play with him on the top pairing again. nice goal by sosh in the shootout too. very exciting game! nice showcasing of the prospects for tavares in 2018.

  • CMpuck

    Nikita Soshnikov looks great.

    Next Year is lining up to be very interesting.
    starting with a Calder Cup victory perhaps.

    and chances of signing Stamkoes, and a chance at
    Matthews in the draft.

    Best case is the stuff of dreams.

    • Harte of a Lion

      No to STAMKOS whether we win the draft lottery or not. Why pay him 11-12 million per year and then waste the best remaining years of his career as the Leafs will not be a dominant team for a few more seasons.

      If you want to dream, Mathews and then Tavares to begin the 2018 season.
      STAMKOS is a great player, Tavares is a “franchise” player

      • Gary Empey

        Re-No to Stamkos. Don’t be so stupid. He just turned 26. Even if you didn’t want him you could always sign him and trade him at next years trade deadline for a first rounder. Cost…. a few million.

      • Gary Empey

        I agree with you about not signing Stamkos at the exhorbitant contract that he will demand, but they should pursue him if only to jack up the asking price. Setup a bidding war just so that some competitors lose more cap space over Stamkos contract.

        • Gary Empey

          I don’t suppose the fact that the Leafs haven’t had a #1 center since Mats Sundin, would change your mind.

          I suppose we should stick with the guys that got us where we are today.( very bottom of the tank )

          It should be easy down the road to get a young, elite, center for cheap money.

          If you are really looking for a bargain from Florida, I know where you can pick up a nice lot overlooking the everglades.

  • Harte of a Lion

    I’ll say it again, depending on his line mates, Soshnikov could win rookie of the year next season. He has better numbers than Panarin at every level they played (same ages) plus he has some grit in his game.
    Can’t wait for Zaitsev, the next piece of Babcocks “Russian 5”

    This team is going to surprise some people next year while the Oilers fight for another #1 lottery draft pick. They may not make the playoffs but they will be in the mix all season

    • Panarin is playing on a line with Patrick Kane man and on PP with Jonathan Towes man!

      The only way Sosh has a chance to beat that is if we indeed sign Stamkos, Stamkos has a career year and the kid ends up on his wing. Not out of the realm of possibility but a tall order.

      More likely he ends up on Bozak’s or Kadri’s wing and, as much as I like them both, they won’t be setting him up for the kind of success Panarin’s had this year.

      Don’t get me wrong – I’m loving the kid. But I just think Leafs are just not good enough to create necessary conditions for someone on the team to be ‘rookie of the year’ next year.

  • Harte of a Lion

    Sorry Justin, but “15 less games” ? C’mon. (I’m a longtime journalist, editor, grammarian and proofreader. Can’t help myself.)

    As for the game, cudos to the new wave. They are hungry and looked great. Especially Hyman. He’s a young Komarov, with a tad more grit. Even Brennan, in limited ice time, made no mistakes.

    As for Stamkos and Tavares, I say forget both of them. They have probably peaked (check their numbers, which are down) and count their their Stanley Cup rings (zero).

    The new Leafs can make their own stars. Their own leaders.

  • Gary Empey

    If you get a chance at a number one #1 center you take it. Without a question.
    He protects #1 center prospect-who ever that turns out to be .
    Try to protect the team which ever way possible
    when signing him to his long term contract.

  • CMpuck

    The kids were indeed hot tonight. Once again an entertaining game high lighted by Nylander’s late goal and in the shoot out a good comrade Soshnikov undresses the Islander goalie. Just don’t get ideas about going on a winning streak leafs. This year and next is all about the tank.

  • Finally, the Leafs brain-trust is acquiring Russian assets. Everyone knows you cannot win without Russians and we all know who taught thr Russians how to play…btw we should get a handful of them too.

    I do not know if they fall in under the “temporary foreign worker program” since there are many Canadians that would be willing to do the job 😉

    Nevertheless, a hulking Siberian or two would bode well on the D.

  • Kanuunankuula

    You do realize there is a very real chance that Stamkos is past his prime? Scoring peak is not at 28, it’s at 23-26. Also after last year’s injury, SS has not been the same.

    If you sign him to 10 million he is not the same player, you’ve just destroyed every bit of good work done towards the rebuild, and set the franchise back 5-7 years. So please people, don’t pretend Stamkos is not a risk.