The Leafs began the toughest stretch of what many are calling "Deathcember" with a rare Sunday tilt in Toronto against the Bruins tonight. With their next games against the Kings, Blues, Hawks and Penguins, two points against Boston would be big, especially since the Bruins are a team the Leafs played fairly well against in their first meeting this season.
The first period was a good one for the Leafs. They managed a few chances, did some scrambling in front of the Bruins net, and didn’t give up much in their own end. Peter Holland was buzzing in this game, and put the Leafs up by one early with his second goal of the season.
Then the penalties happened.
Toronto opened the second period with penalties to Gunnarsson and Ashton, both of which the Bruins cashed in on to steal the lead with goals from Soderberg and Krug. Things unravelled a bit from there, with Boston outshooting the Leafs 17-8 in the middle frame and adding another goal to take a 3-1 advantage into the third.
The Leafs had some jump to start the third, with McClement quickly making it 3-2 after driving to the net nicely on a Nik Kulemin shot. Two powerplay opportunities followed, but didn’t amount to anything, and though the Leafs had some good moments late, eventually Iginla put this one to bed.
Overall I didn’t think the Leafs had that bad of a game, at least compared to what we’ve been seeing recently. They did cough up a lot of shots-on-goal again, of course, but I thought they had some decent stretches of zone time in the Bruins’ end. Game summary at ExtraSkater here.
Why the Leafs lost
Tonight the Leafs just didn’t score enough. Yes, groundbreaking stuff I know. But seriously, they were facing the Bruins’ backup goaltender, and while they finally managed to get some secondary scoring from the likes of Holland and McClement, they didn’t get anything from the usual suspects on the top line. That isn’t to say Kessel and JVR played poorly, they just didn’t bury them tonight. The Leafs were 0-for-4 on the powerplay.
Peter Holland. I know it’s sort of weird to give a guy with 10 minutes of ice time the player of the game, but I thought it was one of his best games so far, and he was noticeable any time he was on the ice, with a goal and assist to boot. Hopefully that translates to some more minutes for him, but we’ll see what Doctor Randy has in store.
- Jake Gardiner led all Leafs with 25:21 on ice.
- The difference between Fraser and Liles is substantial. Is Liles a star? Nope. Will he solve all the Leafs’ problems? Nope. But I still don’t ever want to see Fraser in a Leafs sweater again. Sorry Mark.
- The Leafs didn’t give up 50 shots!