Going into tonight, the Leafs’ draft hopes were pretty much set. They have too many points to reverse-catch Buffalo, Arizona, or Edmonton. The Devils have pulled out of reach. Columbus, uhh, got somewhat healthy and remembered how to play hockey recently. The only team left to worry about is Carolina, and the fortunes in that scenario could change really fast.
For example, if the Leafs lost in regulation tonight, all they would have needed to lock themselves into 27th is a Hurricanes overtime loss tomorrow. Against Buffalo. But, that’s not exactly what happened. The Leafs brought this one to a shootout, and unlike last night, actually won.
This game started off with the typical early first period goal, but oddly enough, it was for the Leafs. Joffrey Lupul opened the scoring for the blue and white, hammering home his own rebound after redirecting a feed from Eric Brewer. This was just one shot of twenty two for the Leafs, which set a season high.
The second period, on the other hand, wasn’t as kind to them. In fact, for the first ten minutes, the Leafs couldn’t pick up shot number twenty three. The Senators, however, picked up an equalizer, making quick use of a powerplay to set up a pinching Erik Karlsson for a nifty snipe on Jonathan Bernier. When the Leafs did eventually hit the net, it was actually a failed pass by Peter Holland that deflected its way towards Andrew Hammond. Amazingly, this didn’t stop the Leafs from answering back; two minutes later, Holland returned with James van Riemsdyk, and set up the winger for his 27th of the season.
Toronto’s lead carried into the third, but only lasted for another minute. Mark Stone was briefly covered by Tyler Bozak, but as soon as the young centre skated away, Kyle Turris set him up for a wicked one timer to beat Jonathan Bernier. The Sens continued to put on the pressure, but ultimately, this game headed to overtime.
In the extra frame, the two sides went back and forth. Heck, for a moment, it looked like Eric Brewer was going to play unlikely hero once again. But nobody was able to score, and it, like last night, headed to a shootout. In the shootout, we Mika Zibanejad roof a wrister and Lupul do his go-to flip and snipe, followed by a goaltending battle. Save after save after save was made, until Holland ultimately beat a sprawling Andrew Hammond to win the game for the Leafs.
I’m going to go with Joffrey Lupul. His first goal in 2015 gives him as many in the calendar year as John Scott with six games in hand, and puts him just one point back of Tanner Glass’ production in the same time period.
Okay, that’s a little mean, but Lupul’s obviously having a rough go at it and it’d be nice to see him get a bit of a boost from that in the final two games of the year. Even if its just for his own psyche moving forward.
Also, he used his patented shootout move, which, for my money, is the best move in hockey.
Summing It Up
I really hope the Senators make the playoffs. I never really bought into the “Battle of Ontario” rivalry as a kid; one fanbase was clearly bigger and their team was the one that won every playoff series. There was maybe one significant incident between the two sides in the regular season. Meanwhile, they could knock out the Bruins, who have a longer history against the Leafs and are much easier to hate.
This has nothing to do with the Leafs, really, but I still feel its a shame that a meaningless two points for the blue and white might set a feel-good story back. Anyway, we’ll see you again on Wednesday, when the Leafs take on
David Clarkson’s the Columbus Blue Jackets.