Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY SPORTS
The Leafs faced off against the Winnipeg Jets tonight in Toronto. With Trouba out on suspension, and Tyler Myers and Tobias Enstrom injured, the Leafs had a prime opportunity to get a win.
The Leafs currently sit 4th in the Atlantic Division and 8th in the Eastern Conference in points percentage, which puts them in the 2nd Wild Card spot assuming all remains constant (which is never a good assumption to make).
From the roster the Leafs iced on Sunday against the Hurricanes, the only change is Gauthier stepping in for Ben Smith.
Early in the game, Leo Komarov picks up the puck off the corner and fires it at the net. Hellebuyck is unable to hold on to it, and the Leafs take an early lead 1-0.
The second best rookie in the 2016 NHL draft, Patrik Laine takes a feed from his elite, number-1-center teammate Mark Scheifele and beats Frederik Andersen far side, tying the game 1-1.
Midway through the 1st, Kadri takes a weird penalty draping himself all over Dustin Byfuglien. On the powerplay, Bryan Little is able to chip a loose puck in front of the net over Andersen to give the Jets the lead, 2-1.
The Leafs get a powerplay on a hooking call against Byfuglien, a good chance to tie the game up. A couple interesting tip passes from Van Riemsdyk aside, there would be nothing fruitful on this man advantage.
Very late in the 1st, Roman Polak takes a slashing penalty. On the first shift, the Jets put the puck past Andersen, but they do so using a stick above the crossbar, and as such is no goal.
The period ends with the Jets up 2-1.
The Jets start with a powerplay, but are unable to score after some good plays by Frederik Andersen.
4 minutes into the 2nd, Ray Ferraro pointed out that Connor Carrick had been missing since the middle of the 1st. The Leafs would have to use 5 defensemen for the remainder of the game.
The Leafs spent the first half of the second making a strong push, largely controlling the play. Ultimately, it would be an unsuccessful stint.
Things got more even as the teams exchanged failed powerplays. But a terrific play by Josh Leivo chips the puck by the Jets poor defensive coverage right to Nazem Kadri, who undresses Connor Hellebuyck to tie the game 2-2.
But not long after, a point shot by Josh Morrisey gets tipped (legally this time) by Nikolaj Ehlers to beat Andersen to restore the Jets’ lead.
Once again a late period penalty is taken, this time by the Jets, and the Leafs take advantage on an excellent, strong play by William Nylander to set up Leo Komarov, who ties the game at 3-3 late.
But the Jets wouldn’t let the period end there, as a chaotic play after a big hit by Nazem Kadri sees Laine bury his second of the game on Andersen. Jets lead 4-3 at the end of the 2nd.
A bruising and chippy start to the 3rd period, as a scrum leads to a mess of penalties including an elbowing penalty to Mark Scheifele that puts the Leafs on the powerplay. The Leafs take advantage again, with Matthews rifling a shot off the backboards that lands right in front of Nylander who buries it behind Helleybuck. 4-4 tie game.
Seven minutes in, Leo Komarov had a chance to land his first NHL hat trick, but to his bad luck it went off the post AND the crossbar and stays out.
A wild set of chances go back and forth in an excellent third period. The Leafs looked like the clearly better team, but were having difficulty overcoming the scoring the Jets had racked up.
With just 4 minutes left in the game, Byfuglien runs Andersen and the Leafs go to a dangerous powerplay. A chance for a win. A close chance saw Leivo feed a wide open Kadri but the puck skipped over his stick. However, the rest of the powerplay would be a mess and unable to score.
The Jets once again get a very late powerplay, just 25 seconds left in regulation when the powerplay begins, but they are unable to score before the period ends.
— GameTimeArt ™ (@GameTimeArt) February 22, 2017
Jake Gardiner rules.
I thought both Josh Leivo and Jake Gardiner had strong showings, following up great games in Carolina for each as well. The Jets were obviously thrust ahead by young Patrik Laine, as the Leafs were with Nylander. The Rielly-Zaitsev pairing really struggled with goals against but were dominant in possession. Another example of why shot attempt stats are useful in a predictive manner, and not as much in a descriptive one. Andersen also had a pretty poor showing, with four goals allowed on just 20 shots on goal, but made a few key saves when they mattered.
My three stars for the evening:
- Jake Gardiner
- Nazem Kadri
- Patrik Laine