Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Morning After Recap: Highway Robbery

Good morning!

Last night, the Leafs got utterly destroyed possession-wise and on the shot clock by the Nashville Predators, coughing up a 2-0 lead in the process, but managed to squeak out an improbable win in the process. It was a tremendous showing by Frederik Andersen, with a couple of clutch goals by James van Riemsdyk to top things off in the offensive department.

Let’s run through the fun stuff:

1-0 Leafs (James van Riemsdyk)

Yes, that was James van Riemsdyk taking a slapshot from above the faceoff circles.

First off, this play was made possible after a nifty little keep at the blue line by Travis Dermott, who nudged the puck forward to Connor Brown. Brown fought off his man and found JVR, and well… you know the rest. A very un-JVR goal, but they all count the same. His 21st of the season put the Leafs up 1-0.

2-0 Leafs (THAT’S KAPPY!)

There goes my namesake, making me proud.

When it looked like he was almost destined to lose this footrace, Kasperi Kapanen put on a terrific display of speed, patience and finesse to finish off the shorthanded breakaway and put the Leafs up 2-0.

This was Kapanen’s 4th goal in 13 games this season; plus, it’s refreshing to see a fourth-liner who can wow on special teams. With the addition of Kapanen, the Leafs are really, truly deep both on paper and in execution.

If you’re feeling down today, just rewatch this goal a few times and laugh to yourself.

2-1 Leafs (Colton Sissons)

Despite a tremendous showing from Frederik Andersen, we were reminded here that he is at least somewhat mortal. An unfortunate bounce on this play led to the puck being freely available to Colton Sissons in the slot, and he did not squander the opportunity to convert. His 6th goal of the season broke Andersen’s perfect game, and brought things to within one once again.

2-2 (Viktor Arvidsson)

25 seconds into the third period, things were all knotted up at 2-2. This play stemmed from a fairly egregious giveaway in the corner by William Nylander, with the puck ultimately landing on Viktor Arvidsson’s stick. Arvidsson fired the puck five-hole, and just like that the Leafs’ lead was gone.

The goal was Arvidsson’s 18th of the season, and came long after the Predators began taking control of this game. It’s hard to fault Andersen on the goal, as he was lights-out for the entire night, and most of the Leafs on the ice are caught puck-watching after Nylander’s giveaway. Not the best look.

3-2 Leafs (JVR Shootout Winner)

Eventually, the skills competition rolled around, and the Leafs (and most importantly Freddie Andersen) outduelled and outlasted the Predators. In the 7th round of the shootout, JVR finds just enough space to slip the puck past Pekka Rinne’s blocker side, and the Leafs miraculously walk away with a win in a game that they seemed pegged to lose from the second period onward. Hug your goalie. And hug JVR while you’re at it, too.

Two points are two points, though, and we’ll take it. The Leafs pull to 32-19-5 on the season, resting comfortably in that 3rd spot in the Atlantic Division, a hilarious 17 points ahead of the Florida Panthers.

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