January 06 2017 10:05PM
Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland/USA TODAY SPORTS
It was only a matter of time before the climb made its way all the way back up, and today, it did. The Toronto Maple Leafs, after a mind-boggling 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils, have sneaked themselves into the third seed in the Atlantic Division.
Look, I'm not going to tell you that this game was traditional by any means. Toronto had their first panic less than 90 seconds in, when Roman Polak threw an unnecessary hit on Nick Lappin and put the team on an early penalty kill. The Leafs did stave off the heat, though, and eventually got a powerplay of their own.
Nazem Kadri puts the Leafs up 1-0 on the powerplay, assists from Van Riemsdyk and Zaitsev pic.twitter.com/66eUDksIhe— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) January 7, 2017
Nazem Kadri made no mistake in taking advantage of it, taking advantage of the room that Cory Schneider left for him to open the scoring for the blue and white. Less than four minutes later, Schneider goofed even worse, allow Connor Brown to put some penalty kill pressure on him en route to doing... this.
Connor Brown strips Cory Schneider of the puck and scores a 2-0 shorthanded goal for the Leafs. Not Schneider's finest moment of his career. pic.twitter.com/X8C1GqgV8x— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) January 7, 2017
Not the best goal ever, but you take it. You also take this one by Auston Matthews:
Auston Matthews makes it 3-0 Leafs. Kyle Qunicey is mad on-ice. Cory Schneider is pulled, Kinkaid is in. pic.twitter.com/ptDlqyhUtl— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) January 7, 2017
And this one by Tyler Bozak:
Tyler Bozak is the first to beat Keith Kinkaid tonight, the Leafs are now up 4-0 fifteen minutes into the first period. pic.twitter.com/sJJC1gSIO3— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) January 7, 2017
And you laugh all the way to the bank. And then you panic a little, knowing that the Leafs have done the "coughed up lead" thing a bunch lately, and did it against the Devils just a few weeks ago. With that, the Leafs slowed things down.
Nine attempted shots in the third, and only five on Keith Kinkaid. Seven attempts in the third, and none on goal. That's no exaggeration; Toronto's last shot came with six and a half minutes left in the second period.
But it was fine, as long as they kept that lead. But PA Parenteau didn't like the idea of Frederik Andersen getting a shutout:
PA Parenteau breaks Frederik Andersen's shutout, 4-1 game pic.twitter.com/aWpwdMMX6L— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) January 7, 2017
And Jon Merrill felt a need to make this game a little weird:
Jon Merill makes it 4-2. Devils pressing. Leafs haven't taken a shot in over a period. pic.twitter.com/CY0pRwDbzA— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) January 7, 2017
Suddenly, with two and a half minutes to go, this was once again not a foregone conclusion. Thankfully for the Leafs, they only gave up three more shots on goal for the rest of the game, and Frederik Andersen got in the way of all of them.
Nazem Kadri's father Sam was very happy with the goal pic.twitter.com/SIpdlj3F9f— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) January 7, 2017
Let's give this one to the entire Kadri family. Sam for cheering on his boy in the box with the other dads. Nazem for scoring a goal, and being the first player I've ever seen draw a penalty and then have it taken away from the referees afterward. Seriously, that was weird.
Here's the Lovejoy / Kadri sequence that resulted in a delayed penalty, whistle, and penalty reversal. pic.twitter.com/zFqfBejA1p— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) January 7, 2017
See You Next Time
A playoff spot! Not just a playoff spot, but a three-way tie for second in the division! These games ahead are going to be crucial ones, and if the team starts to feel greedy and wants to take a run at the top, tomorrow will be huge. They take on the Habs at the Air Canada Centre at 7:00 PM. Ten points is a lot of ground to gain, but could you imagine?