Leafs Postgame: No Place Like Auston’s Home

Photo Credit: Matt Kartozian/USA TODAY SPORTS

You know the excitement for Arizona’s prodigal son was real when the Coyotes straight up went to Twitter and conceded that yes, it’s fine if you’re showing up wearing #34 in blue on your back for this one. I genuinely appreciate that; it’s nice to see a market slowly turn from an emerging one to a talent-producing one.

I also appreciate that after the love-fest ended and Matthews took the opening draw against Shane Doan, the Leafs wasted no time in running the show once again, beating their howlin’ opponents by a score of 4-1.

The Rundown

We’ll keep it short for words again tonight; seems to correlate with winning. Anyway…

It took just three minutes for the Leafs to put themselves up in a way they’d never really look back from. This play, in particular was obscene, though; Matthews slaps the puck down at the blue line, barely avoiding an offside, and feeds it over to Brown for a relatively easy one.

Matthews nearly had his second point of the game on this play, but the finite details don’t matter once the puck is in the net. Not to mention, it was another tally for the breezy one, who set up Jake Gardiner for a point shot that Leo Komarov redirected less than a minute into the second period.

Arizona’s lone goal was a hot mess. The forwards weren’t around to backcheck, and Roman Polak’s decision on a 4-on-2, which he admittedly shouldn’t have had to deal with to begin with, was to try to trip Peter Holland, who was literally the least dangerous option of the four. The Coyotes get a ton of time and Shane Doan buries his 400th of his career.

Komarov was clearly inspired by his redirection, because this may have been the fastest I’ve ever seen him skate. Six minutes into the third period, eager to make sure the Coyotes don’t gain any more momentum, he chases down a loose puck and tucks home a pretty breakaway goal. No way anybody can top that, right?


That’s what they want you to think! William Nylander snapped a 13 game scoring drought with this gorgeous little play, blasting past Oliver Ekman-Larsson and making Mike Smith, who has been very good this year, look like a grade schooler. That was it for the goals, as both teams basically ran out the clock from there.

Why The Leafs Won

Arizona is bad, Mike Smith was due for a bad night, blah blah blah the Leafs finally won a back to back and made some pretty fun plays in the process. Establishing an early lead and having prolonged cycles probably made the biggest actual difference here, but it’s Christmas Eve, so we’ll just stick to excitement for this one.

Blue Warrior

No points for Nazem Kadri tonight, but we’re going to give him the warrior tag tonight for two reasons. In stereotypical TLN fashion, he gets kudos for being Toronto’s top even strength possession forward at over 55% CF, and in narrative fashion, he came back from this painful shot block as if it were nothing, which kinda rules. Hopefully he’s not too bruised in the morning.

See You Next Time

Things are starting to look up for the Leafs, who are getting full pairs of points out of games in hand now and appear to be rushing towards the 2nd or 3rd spot in the Atlantic. Beating some in-house opponents would help, though, so they’ll take on the Computer Boys in Florida on Wednesday night. See you then!