Two regular defencemen shut down for the year, replaced by a waiver claim and a rookie who hasn’t fared well in the NHL to date. The best centre on the team, (rightfully) scratched for being late for a team meeting. A decimated version of an already bad hockey team, taking on the fourth most successful group of players in the National Hockey League. Should be an easy loss, right? Well, not exactly.
This game got weird from the start, as it didn’t include the traditional early goal against that recent Leafs losses have become so well known for. In fact, the two teams shot back and forth at each other for most of the first period until something had to give. Enter David Booth, who took us back to 2009. He chipped the puck to himself, pushed through the Islanders defenders, and beat Michael Neuvirth with a backhand to give the Leafs the lead.
Midway through the second period, things got a little weirder. Peter Holland and Richard Panik found themselves on an odd man rush, and Panik opted for the shot. It didn’t work, but left everybody confused enough for Holland to tap in an uninspired rebound.
Early in the third period, it looked like the Islanders were going to have some pucks land in their favour. Tyler Kennedy ended Jonathan Bernier’s shutout bid, but just a few minutes later, James van Riemsdyk popped in an unassisted tally to restore the two goal lead. It looked like the Leafs were going to win this one, it really did.
But then, as fate would have it, Booth found his way to the penalty box. Within thirty seconds, Frans Nielsen capitalized on the powerplay opportunity. Thirty seconds after that, Casey Cizikas tied the game. The Islanders kept pressing, but couldn’t complete the comeback in regulation.
Overtime was a different story. Scroll back to the top and watch.
David Booth definitely gets this one. He turned back the clock with his goal, which was his third in as many games after an awfully unproductive rest of the season. The streak may have been more beneficial before the trade deadline, but it’s a fun thing to see at the moment.
Then, Booth had a bit of tragedy unfold, as he landed on Tyler Kennedy’s skate in the second period. “I thought my intestines were coming out of my body”, Booth told reporters after the game. “But they weren’t”. Booth got two stitches, came back out, and took the penalty that started the comeback.
If that’s not a blue warrior, I don’t know what is.
I don’t really want to devote much time to the notes tonight, but I will say that it was really nice to see James van Reimsdyk pick up a couple of points, that Jonathan Bernier looked very good despite the “collapse”, and that Zach Sill’s body is definitely warm and has a hockey player in side of it, because he didn’t look as bad as advertised tonight. The Leafs will face the Sabres next, in the McEichel Bowl on Wednesday night.