So, uh, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins fell over in overtime, which led to a three-on-one in overtime with Mason Raymond and Cody Franson, and after a give-and-go, the puck landed on the stick of David Bolland, and he put the winner right through the legs of Devan Dubnyk for the 6-5 winner.
This was one of the weirdest and most entertaining games I’ve seen in years. Regardless of whether you love the Leafs, hate the Leafs, think the Leafs are going to stink this year or have bought into Randy Carlyle’s Great Experiment, it’s undeniable that this team is the most fun its been in a long time. The score was 4-4 midway through the third period and the broadcasters were talking like this was a normal occurrence. After an incredible save by Jonathan Bernier on Marc Arcobello that kept Toronto in the game, Joffrey Lupul tied the score with 21 seconds left on the clock, leading to a wide-open, sloppy overtime period that concluded a wide-open, sloppy game.
When there are 11 goals in the game, you tend to forget what happens at the start. The Internet blew up because Nail Yakupov was scratched in favour of Jesse Joensuu. Ryan Smyth scored his first of two off of a mix-up behind the Maple Leafs net. Nazem Kadri made it 1-1 on the powerplay, somehow doing this:
I still don’t know how there was room for that.
James van Riemsdyk scored his first of two on the night on a brilliant tip on a shot from Franson. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored on a 5-on-3 on a weak wrist shot that went right through Bernier’s equipment. That ended the first, and somehow it wasn’t ridiculously out of place.
In the second, Boyd Gordon scored an early marker, again off of some confusion behind the Leafs net. Nazem Kadri set up Joffrey Lupul a few minutes later. Lupul was just a biiiiit open:
Then, *gasp* the game went a full 20:09 before the next goal. Jordan Eberle scored his first on the season on a two-on-one. Van Riemsdyk scored on a wrap-around. Kadri failed to get a puck deep and the Oilers turned that into a sweet odd-man rush, with Eberle setting up Smyth for his second. After Franson iced the puck late, Tyler Bozak won a faceoff in his own end and Phil Kessel rushed through centre to gain the zone. Lupul shot a puck right at Dubnyk’s right pad, but that poor guy can’t buy a break this year, and it ricocheted off the ice and in for a late tying goal.
I don’t know. Did I cover everything? Lupul nearly scored right as time expired and the game went to overtime. Edmonton probably had the early run of play. They got three offensive possessions in the attacking zone before the Leafs got any, but the Leafs capitalized on their second that began on a rush started by Raymond. Nugent-Hopkins probably had a case for a penalty, but meh. Let Oilers Nation complain about that.
Colton Orr also threw a hip-check on Taylor Hall, which was hilarious.
WHY THE LEAFS WON
You can’t say that the Leafs won thanks to their goaltender. Bernier stopped just four of his first six shots against and looked utterly vincible for the first time all season. He stopped just 83.9% of his shots, and while he made the huge save against Arcobello late, the Leafs were in a bad position mostly because Bernier had a lot of difficulty early on.
Here’s that save, if you missed it:
Maybe Arcobello could have got a little more juice on it.
As I mentioned, Lupul’s second goal hit Dubnyk in the pad before it bounced in. On this night, Dubnyk was a little worse, or a little more unlucky, than Bernier. It was a weird game, as mentioned in the first line of this post. Perhaps there was no reason the Leafs should have won this game. Perhaps they simply won this game and there’s no reason to question why.
Toronto have two exciting, overtime, comeback victories on back-to-back Saturday nights. I hope we get a full season of these.
Nazem Kadri played his best game on the season tonight. He had the failed dump-in that led to the original go-ahead goal, but he was excellent through the neutral zone all night. He had six controlled zone entries, a team-high (tied with Lupul and Kessel) four shots on goal and five more attempts. Just 3-for-11 in the faceoff circle, which too many analysts will unfortunately focus on. Kadri had a great game between the faceoffs and scored the most unlikely goal of the season so far with that brilliant snipe in the first.
- Coming into the game, the Leafs were 9th in the NHL in powerplay scoring rate, with 9.55 goals per 60 minutes of 5-on-4 time. They improved on that tonight, bumping it to 9.90 after scoring a goal on their only 4:57 of action.
- Despite the one powerplay goal, the Leafs scored 6-on-5 and 4-on-4, so they only scored three of their goals in 5-on-5 situations. They were out-scored in that regard, but special teams, again, making a big difference.
- Randy Carlyle is not a believer in the “pull the goalie early” strategy employed by Dallas Eakins. Bernier left the net at 1:09 for Joffrey Lupul, who was the guy that scored the tying goal.
- Toronto were out-shot 31-26 in this one, but at even strength it was closer, 22-20. The Leafs also had 34 shot attempts either blocked or missed and the Oilers had just 26.
Per Extra Skater, the Leafs out-Corsi’d Edmonton 46-40 at evens, and it was pretty even, 32-33, in score-close situations.
- Glenn Healy talked early on about how the Leafs had only a few blocked shots and didn’t have many hits, or something. Blocked shots and hits are the absolute worst ways to judge a hockey team.
The Leafs take to the ice again Tuesday at home against Minnesota