Games like this are the reason that, try as we might, we just cannot give up on the Leafs. 10 minutes into the first period it looked like “one of those nights” where anything that could go wrong, did. Adrian Aucoin knocked what would have been a breakaway pass to Lupul out of mid-air about a minute before Phaneuf mishandled a bouncing puck and tripped over the blueline to set up the first Yotes goal. Then a soft wrister from the point eludes every body in front to find its way into the back of the net. 2-0 Yotes, oh brother.
People took to Twitter to suggest the most insane possibilities to right the ship. While I was frustrated I felt the Leafs deserved better. They were not terrible in the first period, and played a solid second period in which Mike Smith was the difference. Going into the third I felt that the Leafs could mount a comeback, but probably wouldn’t. I was prepared to chalk it up as a moral victory, to look for the individual performances that stood out. Then Mike Komisarek of all people brought the Leafs to within one. Mike Brown drew a penalty with a solid forecheck and Phil Kessel did what Phil Kessel does. 2-2 Leafs. The last 10 minutes and OT may be the best hockey I’ve seen this team play since Reimer was injured.
The defense was extremely mobile carrying the puck through the neutral zone to break the Yotes trap, the Leafs could have won the game in regulation. If this was a playoff OT game I have no doubt the Leafs would have won. We may have only secured a pity point, but they all count.
3-3-1 in November without Reimer and Connolly is not bad at all.
- Phil Kessel absolutely embarrassed Schlemko several times last night. He saw about 10 minutes of EV ice time against him and could have had another two goals if not for Mike Smith’s glove.
- Luke Schenn had his best game of the season. He was physical, he moved the puck well, and had a few decent rushes and smart pinches. He played 20:00 and looked great out there. It was the second most minutes he’s played this year, and only the second time all season he’s been over 20 minutes.
- Poor Dion Phaneuf, had the Leafs not tied the game he would have worn the goat horns for falling at the blue-line to create the first goal. Thankfully Kessel saved him from that fate. He was a beast the rest of the night, playing 26 minutes. He saw most of his ES time against Hanzal, Vrbata, and Whitney and was effective in keeping them scoreless after the first. He was everywhere on the ice and I thought he was going to score the OT winner. I would love to see Wilson use him in the shootout just once.
- The Leafs’ bench was shortened by injuries to MacArthur and Grabovski but once again a roster full of NHL talent helped the Leafs stay fresh and tie the game. Every other Leaf played past the 15 minute mark of the third and the bottom six guys helped set-up a goal and drew the penalty that led to the tying goal.
- Komisarek was the first non-inured player to see his night end at about the 17 minute mark of the third.
- I’m not sure if Kyle Chipchura was injured or just useless but his night came to an end just 9 minutes into the third for the Yotes.
So there you have it, Scrivens was my first star of the game with an honourable mention to Kessel and Schenn.
Have a look at the charts and tell me what stands out to you: