Some losses come harder than others. A three-goal collapse ranks right up there, but you know what? This is a very young team, and they’ll be able to take the defeat as a learning experience. Maybe, in a few years from now, they’ll be the type of team that puts their foot down, catches themselves slipping, and gets the job anyway.
Wait, did I say years? Minutes was the term I was looking for. After a mind-numbing collapse over the span of ten hockey minutes, the Leafs pulled together an insane 6-5 overtime victory.
The game started with rookie fan favourite Zach Hyman breaking character and taking a seat in the penalty box, a situation which put the Leafs in a tough place. So tough, in fact, that Jamie McGinn was able to pick up a juicy rebound in front of the net and beat a sprawling Garret Sparks, who’s stick was just barely out of position.
The Leafs tied it up quickly, however, and the goal from a familiar yet distant face. Tyler Bozak, who was making his return from an extended concussion-caused absence, made the most of the opportunity by ripping a wrist shot from the right-side faceoff dot. Three minutes later, wit the Leafs on the powerplay, Nazem Kadri gave Toronto the lead by shovelling home a loose puck in front of the net while Nick Ritchie sat in horror.
The good vibes continued for the two centres, as Kadri found Bozak on a rare collaboration to extend the lead on another powerplay in the second period. With three minutes to go, Frank Corrado made a surprising punch and slid a backhand past Frederik Andersen to give the Leafs a 4-1 lead. Insurmountable, right?
Well, you all know how these things go. McGinn picked up a second powerplay goal a few minutes later, and nine seconds after that, Andrew Cogliano added bolted down the ice and grabbed another. That was as close as Anaheim got at the intermission, but thanks to a gaffe by Jake Gardiner early in the third, Ryan Garbutt was able to tie it up despite the Ducks being short-handed, stripping Gardiner of the puck and roofing a wicked, one knee backhand past Sparks.
Brandon Pirri three minutes later, putting Anaheim in the lead, and all hope appeared to be lost. But on yet another Leafs powerplay, Connor Brown tied the game on the juiciest of rebounds to put the Leafs in their own rally mode. This sent the game to overtime, and, well, we’ll let Nazem Kadri take care of the rest:
Concussions are rough, traumatic injuries, that in many cases don’t get taken seriously enough. It’s a good thing that Tyler Bozak took his time to recover, and it showed tonight as he made an immediate impact on the score sheet. Everyone’s favourite “young” centre led the team with five shots on goal, scored two of them, won 53% of his faceoffs, and looked very solid in a little under 13 sheltered minutes. He was also the team’s second-best possession player, with the Leafs attempting 65% of the shots with him on the ice.
See You Next Time
Speaking of 4-1 collapses… the Leafs play their next game against the Boston Bruins. That’ll come on Saturday night, and it might be the perfect storm for those cheering on the tank. The Leafs are hot, the Bruins are cold, and something is going to have to give on at least one side.
On the other hand.. it’s the Bruins, so maybe riding the wave for one more game isn’t a bad thing. Puck drop is at 7:00. See you then!