Leafs Postgame: Good One Randy

Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY SPORTS

The Leafs beat Phil Kessel on Saturday, so the tour of exorcisms was surely about to continue with a win against Randy Carlyle’s old-is-new Anaheim Ducks, right?

Not exactly, as the team fell 3-2 in yet another close game that left you wanting a bit more.

The Rundown

Let’s not really talk about the first period. Simply put, not a ton happened, save for a few penalties and a couple back and forth scoring chances. Actually, the highlight of the period was probably that TLN contributor and video-shouting man Steve Dangle had his dog printed onto the boards:

But yeah, not a lot happened on the ice. That is, until Auston Matthews saw Nikita Zaitsev wind up and pulled off this thing: 

Now, I’ve done that before while playing drop-in ball hockey, but on ice in an NHL game, redirecting an NHL point shot? The kid is unreal, and as a result, the Leafs went up 1-0 on his 15th of the year. The lead didn’t survive the period, however, as Ryan Getzlaf was the benefactor of some extreme redirections on a powerplay shot taken as Zaitsev watched from the box with two minutes to go.

A minute and change into the third, the Ducks took the lead. They couldn’t just take the lead, either; they took it thanks to a goal from Nick Ritchie, who many in the “old-time hockey” crowd wanted the Leafs to draft in 2014 (they’re still wrong). Nazem Kadri responded ten minutes later, though, and deposited this shot behind John Gibson:

With seven minutes to go, Zach Hyman took a penalty for punching Josh Manson, putting the Leafs down a man. It took Anaheim just three seconds to turn it into a goal, as Ryan Kesler won a draw clean off of Frederik Gauthier, and straight to Cam Fowler, who unleashed a rocket past Andersen. Toronto had some chances, but weren’t able to tie it up in the end.

Why The Leafs Lost

Now, I know what you’re about to say; “The Leafs only won 33% of the draws! Babcock even talked about the Ducks dominating the draw!” Now, that’s true; while faceoffs aren’t a huge deal in the long-run, the winning goal did come off a clean draw. But do you know what the bigger issue was?

The Ducks were on their fifth powerplay. They scored their second powerplay goal of the game. Say what you will about losing a defensive zone draw, but you wouldn’t be in the defensive zone if Zach Hyman wasn’t throwing his fists late in the game against a team that’s second in the league in powerplay efficiency.

Staying out of the box would’ve probably been more effective than having someone better at the dot. That’s time the Leafs could’ve spent trying to spread their lead, rather than trying to stay alive.

Blue Warrior

Let’s give it to Auston. He was first among forwards who played the full game in shot attempt differential, had that gorgeous deflection, and led both teams with eight shots on goal. He also led all forwards with 21:22 in ice time; in fact, he was third among all skaters on the Leafs. A huge night for the kid.

See You Next Time

That’s a shame of a game, and it ends Toronto’s homestand. But now they get a chance to get revenge on a team that stole points from them recently; they’ll take on the Avalanche in Denver on Thursday. Puck drop is at 9:00 PM. See you then!