When you’re a dysfunctional team that desperately wants to turn things around, the best case scenario is to face a dysfunctional team that desperately just wants their season to be over. Unfortunately for the sake of entertainment, the Leafs are the latter half of that equation. Fortunately for the sake of the reverse standings, the Leafs are the latter half of that equation.
Predictably, the Leafs gave up the first goal in this game. Taking advantage of a waved-off icing call, Chris Tierney picked up the puck behind Toronto’s net, circled around, and set up Tomas Hertl just seven minutes in. It was the only goal in a period where the Leafs deserved so much worse, getting outshot 21-8.
San Jose made up for that in the second period, however. Logan Couture added an insurance marker, scoring a James van Riemsdyk-esque goal from just in front of the net. Jake Gardiner closed the gap with a point shot a few minutes later, but was responded to with a Melker Karlsson goal that doubled as Joe Thornton’s 900th career assist. With six seconds left in the period, Tommy Wingels tipped Matt Nieto’s prayer of a shot past Bernier to give San Jose a three goal lead.
Not much happened in the third period. Neither team scored, both took fewer shots, and eventually, van Riemsdyk and Brenden Dillon swung sticks at each other in anger. The buzzer sounded, and the two teams drifted apart.
You wonder if scoring his first goal since December 6th will be a confidence booster for Jake Gardiner, who has been struggling to put numbers together this year. He has lots of time to figure it out, though, and if something small like this pushes him in the right direction, that’s awesome. He also wasn’t awful in terms of possession tonight, which is nice to see when you consider the overall effort of the team itself.
Summing It Up
It seems that mathematical elimination from playoff contention hasn’t stopped this team’s free-fall. Once again, this team were out-played and out-performed on home ice. At the very least, this is a team that you’d expect to outplay them, even if they’ve had their own issues. Toronto’s next game is on Saturday against the Ottawa Senators.