Photo Credit: Kevin Hoffman / USA TODAY Sports

Leafs Postgame: Die By The Sword

That wasn’t very good. Like, at all. The Toronto Maple Leafs fell 5-2 to the Buffalo Sabres tonight, in a game that many felt would be easier than it actually was.

The Rundown

Toronto’s woes started early in the first period, as Ryan O’Reilly took advantage of a spectacular play by Tyler Ennis to pen the scoring just seven minutes in. Ennis quickly retrieved the puck from the right side of the net, spun around, and made a pass that stumped both Nazem Kadri and Morgan Rielly to give the home (if under-represented in the ground) team the lead. Connor Brown was quick to respond with an unassisted tally two minutes later, but Evander Kane was even quicker to take the lead back for his team, scoring just fifteen seconds after the fact.

The second period started on a sombre note, as Frederik Andersen opted to leave the game after suffering an upper-body injury late in the first. Concern was initially¬†ridden by Auston Matthews scoring his 34th goal of the season on a play that extended William Nylander’s point streak to 11 games less than two and a half minutes into the frame. That was almost as short-lived as the last tie, though; Jack Eichel regained the lead for Buffalo on a powerplay 25 seconds later, and Dmitry Kulikov added another three minutes after that.

For good measure, Eichel potted his second of the game and 23rd of the season ten with seven minutes to go in the second. It was the last goal scored by Buffalo in this game, as Curtis McEhlinney fended off the remaining traffic, but the Leafs weren’t able to take advantage of that to get some goals of their own.

Why The Leafs Lost

Losing Andersen certainly didn’t help, but they were also just not overly great tonight. They fell completely flat in the second period, though penalty trouble certainly didn’t help them.

Blue Warrior

Connor Brown has proven a lot of people wrong this season, and getting another goal has certainly added to the case. There’s a decent chance that he becomes the fourth rookie on the team to hit 20 games, which is pretty absurd. He also was at the top of team possession tonight, as the Leafs attempted 17 shots with him on the ice at 5 on 5 with only 9 against.

See You Next Time

While the loss stings, Toronto remains in third in the Atlantic Division for now. Their next kick at the can comes on Tuesday, against the Florida Panthers at home. Will the team respond after a rough loss, both last night and in their last game against Florida? Here’s hoping so.

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  • Glen

    The Leafs missed Polak and Sosh on the penalty kill both those players have grit, something missing last night. Looked like rush hour traffic in front of the Leafs net all night. Defence is where the Leafs are lacking, and not only on the bottim pairing. This is only one game so lets not push the panic button just yet. GLG

  • Stan Smith

    It appears the Leafs were completely caught off guard by Andersen being pulled from the game. It sounds like he was pulled by the Sabres doctor under the new concussion protocol, after he saw him shaking his head after being run into. I can see where that could hurt a teams concentration. Plus in a case like that McElhinney would probably not be ready going in. Hopefully Andersen is ok. If he isn’t we will see if this is one more obstacle the Leafs can overcome.

  • MartinPolak

    As others note, Polak on the blueline will make the team’s defence look a lot more solid.
    I wouldn’t worry about this game. The leafs always come back strong after a bad loss (i.e the florida blow out)

    • Gary Empey

      The Oilers drafted and played forwards who all the did was score. They they blamed all their loses on the goaltender and defencemen. It wasn’t until they brought in a new GM and coach that the problem was recognized and is being corrected. After one loss to Ottawa their new coach McLellan honestly stated…No one wants to back check on this team except McDavid. Last year and in the summer you seen guys like Hall shipped out. Guys like Maroon brought in. Not every forward in the league are good at the defensive side of hockey. Without a balanced lineup it is easy to score goals against you. I like Leivo a lot. He is a little slower than most of the other top nine. Replacing JVR is the obvious spot for him. He is not effective on the 4th line….Personally I don’t believe in the “throw him in anyways and see what happens” approach. Naturally others have different thoughts. Everybody seem to want to get rid of Polak. Well last night we got a look and the penalty kill without him. Two power play goals scored against us. Players falling on top of our goalie, cycle at will, etc.

  • STAN

    Am I alone in wondering what on earth McElhinney was doing on his knees for goals 3 and 4? Both of those shots were easily stoppable. Sure, the rest of the Leafs also sucked, but McElhinney showed exactly why he has been a career-backup. And I’m with Cybergy – why is Leivo sitting? The Leafs are better with him. NEXT!!