Leafs Postgame: Actually Good Ontario Boys

Photo Credit: Marc DesRosiers/TSGPhoto.com

The Leafs needed a win tonight, and people were understandably worried when they found out that Curtis McEhlinney’s debut with the Leafs would be the game against the division rival they were intensely chasing. They were more worried when it turned out that he tweaked something in warmups yesterday and that there were questions about him being ready to go. 

It didn’t matter. He came in, he was about as steady as a backup has been for the Leafs this year, and they supported him with the goals he needed en route to a 4-2 victory in the land of Parliament.

The Rundown

Toronto found their groove early in this game, taking advantage of a powerplay handed to them by former captain Dion Phaneuf. Tyler Bozak’s shot from the left point created commotion in front of the net, and both James van Riemsdyk and Nazem Kadri took cracks at it, with Mr. Nifty Mittens capitalizing in the end. That was it for scoring in the first, but…

Within a minute of the second period beginning, the Leafs were back at it again. Mitch Marner fed Bozak in his typical fashion, and the veteran centre made no mistake and went absolute roof on Mike Condon. Toronto got some pushback from the Sens, though, as Phaneuf managed to bank one in off Jake Gardiner’s backside midway through the period and Kyle Turris went on an inspired rush to snipe out McEhlinney. 

Once more, the Leafs had a quick start to the third period. Mimicking the “kid feeds vet” vibes of the last goal, William Nylander set up Nazem Kadri to get him his second goal of the night and put the Leafs ahead once again. But that wasn’t even the best of it. Just look at this absurdity that happened with twelve minutes to go:

Auston Matthews is an absolute magician, and he showed it once again. The Leafs had been struggling at the dot all night and he used that to his advantage, using the ol’ EA Sports poke around play to gain possession back and set up Connor Brown for the insurance tally. That’s all the Leafs needed.

Blue Warrior

Let’s go with Curtis McEhlinney. We didn’t know what the Leafs were getting in him (we still probably don’t) and we didn’t even know if he was fit to play tonight, but he stopped 35 of 37 that he faced. I can buy into the idea of teams feeling more confident with certain goalies, so it’s great that he made a big first impression.

See You Next Time

With the win, the Leafs are back in the third seed in the division, and if you go by points percentage, are tied for 10th overall. They’re on a 96-point-pace at the halfway mark. Savor what you’ve seen so far, but it’s only going to get better.

Toronto’s next game comes on Tuesday night when they take on the Buffalo Sabres. It’s a home game, the first of a four-game homestand, and puck drop will be at 7:30.