Leafs Postgame: Wildcard

Photo Credit: John. E Sokolowski/USA TODAY SPORTS

“They should’ve won that one, but they couldn’t pull it off” has been a bit of a recording for the Toronto Maple Leafs this year, and tonight’s game was no exception. Despite a dominant third period, the blue and white fell 3-2 to the Minnesota Wild on home ice.

The Rundown

Minnesota fell took an early and tough-to-tackle lead in this one, thanks to two quick goals from Jason Zucker and Chris Stewart. The former goal involved Nazem Kadri being smothered behind the Toronto goal by Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund, who created a back door play that Frederik Andersen had no time to really react to. In Stewart’s case, he found just the right time to bolt behind Jake Gardiner and Connor Carrick, was sprung by Jared Spurgeon for a breakaway, and made no mistake. 

The Wild didn’t hold a multi-goal lead for long, though. Ben Smith gave the game a semblance of balance just two minutes after Stewart’s tally, picking off Kadri’s rebound to close the gap. That was as close as the first period got. That’s unfortunate, given that within 90 seconds of the second opening, Eric Staal buried a tally that looked nearly identical to the first. This time, Charlie Coyle scooped that behind-the-net loose puck off Morgan Rielly and dished it to the front for Staal to convert.

There was a moment of excitement, if not hope, though, as Tyler Bozak scored one of the prettiest goals of his career ten minutes later. Taking advantage of a good protective play by Mitch Marner, Bozak danced around Matthew Dumba and beat Devan Dubnyk to score his sixth of the season. Toronto put on immense pressure in the third period, attempting 32 shots while allowing just 3 efforts from Minnesota, but it didn’t play out as hoped.

Why The Leafs Lost

I’m not even going to try to dissect this one too much. Two very fortunate backdoor plays and a dominant Devan Dubnyk haunted the Leafs. Beyond that, they had significant control of this game; hardly one to jump down their throats for.

Blue Warrior

I’m going to break the rules and give this to linesman Steve Miller, who left the game after taking a slapshot from Roman Polak to the knee, and to the other officials, who played through the remainder of the night a man short.

See You Next Time

Once again, the Leafs are going on a bit of a break, not playing again until Saturday night. That game will be against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. As always, we’ll have you covered for the details, though I personally will be a nervous wreck at BMO Field as Toronto FC plays the MLS Cup Final at the same time.