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Photo Credit: Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Postgame: Getting Lucky Against Vegas

It’s not often that people are able to beat Vegas in the luck game, but the Leafs were able to do that tonight.

Not a very pretty or appealing game for the Leafs, but they were able to get the win in the end. Losing the corsi matchup 68-35 at even-strength, but only slightly losing the high-danger corsi war 9-7 is basically the two stats that tell the story of this game.

Recap

1st Period

The first period started out with both teams exchanging chances. Odd man rushes both ways led to some pretty exciting hockey in the first few minutes of this game. It is almost like the Leafs have been hearing about how terrible they have been at home and want to change that.

All of this attitude was headlined by the effort of the Johnsson-Lindholm-Brown third line. Eventually, leading to an early goal from Mr. Brown Cow himself, Connor Brown.

Just before the goal, Par Lindholm had an excellent passing play to chip the puck over some Knights’ sticks and into the key scoring area. Even Brown was able to defend the puck well and keep control in the offensive area to score his second goal of the season.

The next ten minutes is probably the most complete, top to bottom, I’ve seen the Leafs play all year long. Everyone is contributing and providing a stellar offensive game and a stable defensive one.

Including this fun play by Marner, just going for a casual skate.

Patience and skill is a perfect combo, as Marner beautifully sets up Tavares for a nice scoring chance to the right of Fleury.

Overall, this first period was perfect to silence all of the “why are the Leafs so bad at home this year” questions. It ended 1-0 for the Good Guys.

2nd Period

Well, the Tavares-Marner connection continues, as Marner scored a beautiful goal just nine seconds into the second period.

That might have deflected off the defenceman’s outreached stick, but who the hell cares?

The penalty decision may have not gone the Leafs way this period, but the Leafs effectively killed off both of their penalties with ease. Some aggressive forechecking and defensive coverage lets the Leafs get out free from the clutches of the devilish plays from Marner and Gardiner.

It turns out that the Golden Knights don’t even need a powerplay to score, as Cody Eakin scores his second goal of the season and cut the Leafs’ lead in half.

After this goal it has become much more clear, but the Leafs are completely stagnant and trying to stretch the puck and are constantly icing the puck. It was absolutely the most frustrating thing to watch.

Maybe the Leafs remembered that they’re playing at home this period and just absolutely shit the bed.

But hey, we still have Travis sometimes making the stretch pass work.

This period was probably the worst the Leafs have ever played all season long. At even-strength, they gave up sixteen shots on goal, while they were only able to get seven. Only Travis Dermott and Par Lindholm were above 50% at 5v5 CF% at the end of this period.

At this point, they were being completely dominated but only leaning on this roster’s pure skill to get them by. The only way they’re even close to having a lead at this point.

3rd Period

The whole “Leafs getting absolutely pummeled but getting lucky” thing continues through the beginning of the third period. According to MoneyPuck, the Knights at this point have a whole 1.2 more expected goals than the Leafs 45 minutes into this game.

To cap off the Leafs terrible play throughout this game, Marleau goes and has Erik Haula awkwardly fall and injury his leg extremely badly.

Damn, your leg isn’t supposed to bend that way. Haula needed to be stretchered off the ice after this.

Amid the frustration of icing after icing, some Leafs are still trying to dazzle us with their offensive playmaking ability.

Marner was able to pull out some of those London tricks from his bag tonight. At least someone is had fun.

Probably the weirdest moment of the game has to go to Gardiner taking this high sticking penalty on Rielly Smith.

Gardiner high sticks Smith as he’s going down, but I believe it still should count as a penalty, but since Smith is bleeding, why isn’t it four minutes? He still whacked him in the face with his stick.

I don’t want to see the Leafs have to kill a double minor, but why isn’t that four minutes? He’s bleeding and the referees gave the penalty anyway. So they’re just going halfway and compromising now? I didn’t know they can just make up the rules as they go along.

I’m simply amazed that at this point of the game, the only way Vegas was able to get the puck in the net was off of a very good deflection in front of it. They have about double the amount of shots and scoring chances compared to the Leafs, so they are really just not getting those prime scoring chances they should be.

Leafs score the empty net (of course) and it’s Kadri with the tally.

Leafs win 3-1.

Final Thoughts

The Leafs got extremely lucky tonight. So lucky that everyone should be pretty worried. They were able to win this game, but barely and really relied on their skilled players to be able to put the puck in the net.

It’s nice to have won and see their points increase, but this game really should not be what they are aiming for. At even-strength, the Leafs lost the shot battle 30-17 and were unable to get 25 unblocked shot attempts at all. That is absolutely brutal.

Regression to the mean is inevitable, so I guess enjoy this luck. But I guess if the Leafs are now a team that can get lucky and win a game, instead of controlling the whole game and losing (like against the Dallas Stars earlier) then anything is possible.

This basically sums up the whole game:

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