LEAFS POSTGAME: Swimming with the Fishies

Ryan Hobart
December 13 2016 08:47PM

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Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY SPORTS

The Sharks were visiting Toronto tonight in a contest against the Maple Leafs. The Sharks are shaping up to be one of the best teams in the league again this year, while Toronto is floating between the basement and playoff contention.

1st period

The 1st period started with a good pace (in the speed sense, not in the shots sense) and were able to create a few chances in the San Jose zone. Particularly the Auston Matthews and William Nylander combo looked dangerous again.

On the 4th line's first shift of the game, though, Matt Martin takes a boarding penalty to send the Sharks to the powerplay. It was on this powerplay where Zach Hyman slid in front of a shot and took it on the knee, and was helped off of the ice. As one of the Leafs' best penalty killers this would have been a significant loss, but he returned for his next shift and appeared fine.

He would later prove just how fine he was, when Matthews and Nylander were dominating puck control in the offensive zone, and Nylander found Matthews in the slot to wrist a shot on goal which Hyman would tip into the net for the first goal of the game.

There were plenty of opportunities for the Leafs as they had a couple powerplay chances and a few more dominating shifts by Nylander and Matthews. They wouldn't convert again though, as the period would end 1-0.

2nd period

The first 5 minutes looked exactly the same as that of the first, with a high pace and a few chances for the Leafs.

The Leafs looked to have scored but Nazem Kadri made contact with Jones and the goal was waved off. The Leafs challenged but were denied, and the score remained 1-0. It was a nice feed from Connor Brown to Morgan Rielly to set up the no-goal. 

Tommy Wingels would take a penalty 180ft from his net to send the Leafs to the powerplay to hopefully continue their surge. Shortly after, Nieto takes a goalie interference penalty on a shorthanded rush so the Leafs were off to the 5-on-3 with lots of time and momentum.

The Leafs had a ton of control, and with 30 seconds still left on the 5-on-3, Matthews beats Jones on a strong shot from low in the zone to put the Leafs up 2-0.

The Sharks later got a powerplay chance, on which Hyman got a breakaway chance but was unable to score, and neither did the Sharks on their powerplay.

The period would end 2-0 for the Leafs.

3rd period

This period was a slower start than the first 2, but the Sharks got an early powerplay and had a few chances in front of Andersen that were denied. They also followed the powerplay with some dangerous chances including a puck that floated over Andersen but he was able to cover it up.

The period continued on fairly back and forth, with the Leafs having more dangerous chances but the Sharks still making noise.

With just 7 minutes left in the 3rd, San Jose started to climb back on a rush. Justin Braun whips a backhand past Frederik Andersen to give his team their first goal of the night.

This goal gave the Sharks some energy and momentum, as they started to control play in the Leafs zone. Score effects in action. Shortly after, the Sharks would go on the powerplay on a penalty from Matt Hunwick and immediately score off the faceoff to tie the game.

It would end that way, 2-2 tie game, so off to OT.

OVERTIME

3-on-3 OT is a magical thing isn't it?

Morgan Rielly had a stellar chance set up by Kadri to finish the game, but was denied by Jones.

Nylander got caught on a long shift but caused a turnover and was able to turn the rush the other way with Zaitsev and get off for a change.

It certainly lived up to the hype but ultimately no goals were scored so off to the shootout.

Shootout

I'm going to say this every time I write one of these: I hate the shootout. It's utter randomness and at this point, if I wasn't writing about it, I'd shut the game off and flip a coin to see who will win.

Marner
Pavelski
Matthews
Couture
Soshnikov x


FINAL THOUGHTS

The Hyman-Matthews-Nylander line was dominant tonight but ultimately the Leafs were unable to hold onto their 3rd period lead and lose in a shootout. There wasn't a significantly better team tonight despite the Leafs looking more dangerous, so a shootout is a fair result I suppose.

My 3 stars for the night:

  1. Matthews
  2. Nylander
  3. Pavelski

Controversial I suppose to give the losing team 2 of the stars, but they were two of the best individual players in this game without much question.

Tune in Thursday when Peter Holland returns to town with the Arizona Coyotes at 7:30pm.

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A stats #nerd who loves to think about hockey. Sometimes I write those thoughts down here. Find me on Twitter @ryanhobart84, or on reddit as /u/riversfan17