So the first game didn’t go the Leafs wanted it to; nobody ever likes losing to the Ottawa Senators, even in a rookie tournament. Today offered a new lineup, a new opponent, and most importantly, a new opportunity to win a hockey game.
Unfortunately, while this group tried their hardest, they couldn’t get it done, falling 6-4; this time in regulation.
The Leafs actually picked up the first goal in this game, courtesy of a sweet deflection by 2014/15 Marlies signing Jack Rodewald. Toronto continued to pour on the attack and late in the first period picked up a powerplay. Unfortunately for them, the Habs turned a bad situation into a good one, as Jamal Watson created a breakaway for himself and roofed a backhand past Justin Nichols to tie the game.
The second period opened up with a tilt between Nikolas Broulliard and Brett Lernout. It didn’t really help the Leafs gain the momentum they had hoped for; in fact, within a minute and a half, Tim Bozon found a way to sneak through the Leafs defence and tap home a go-ahead goal for Montreal. The Leafs responded quickly though – Broulliard made up for his time in the box with a fantastic wrist shot to tie the game, and Michael Joly picked up a loose puck in front of the net within seconds to give the Leafs a lead that lasted about a minute. Connor Crisp tipped a puck past Nichols to re-tie the game, setting up for a winner-take-all third period.
It just so happens that the Habs were the ones to dictate the third period. The Leafs continued chugging away, ultimately putting fifty-one pucks on net, but a cross crease tap in for Charles Hudon and a rather fortunate backhand from Dalton Thrower put Montreal out of reach. Broulliard closed the gap with another heavy shot (this time from long distance), but Hudon took advantage of a hail-mary rush attempt by Nikita Soshnikov, took the puck away from the Leafs’ recent KHL signing, and fired it into the empty net to put a final stake into the game’s heart.
Have to go with Nikolas Brouillard. The unsigned defenceman wore a fellow Nik’s number tonight (Antropov’s #80), but looked more like a #81 with two wicked snapshots that landed in the back of the net. His first was probably Toronto’s highlight of the night.
The Leafs return to the ice tomorrow night, when they take on the Pittsburgh Penguins. Puck drop is at 7:35 PM. Will they go winless in the tournament, or end things on a high note? Leave a comment below with your prediction!