There was much anticipation to tonight’s matchup with the Canucks and Leafs, given the physicality and fisticuffs that happened the last time these teams met.
The Leafs fans as usual had a strong presence out west in Vancouver’s home arena, and you could hear a “Go [mumble] Go” with both fanbases trying to outcheer the other.
William Nylander had another strong start to the game despite being relegated to the 4th line. He caused several turnovers and had the Leafs controlling the play in the Canucks’ zone. It wasn’t converted into any dangerous chances as his efforts were largely solo, but still impressive.
The Marner line followed up with several impressive and dangerous chances with the help of Van Riemsdyk, Bozak and Jake Gardiner. They weren’t able to convert, but drew a penalty by outskating Luca Sbisa and causing him to take a slashing call.
The powerplay was somewhat of a mess for the Leafs, though, allowing rushes against by Bo Horvat and Brandon Sutter, not really generating any opportunities to convert on the advantage.
During a stretch of the Canucks controlling the puck in the Leafs’ zone, Mitch Marner and Roman Polak get tied up in the high slot, and Marner isn’t able to get up high to cover Henrik Sedin. His shot deflects off Polak and past Andersen for the 1st goal of the game.
The Leafs got some chances back late in the game from Bozak and his line again, but were ultimately unsuccessful. The period ends with the Canucks leading 1-0.
The 2nd period saw Nylander getting an opportunity with Nazem Kadri and Leo Komarov, and it started off splendidly, generating some good chances.
A rush by the Matthews line is ceased when Hyman makes a bad pass behind Rielly’s feet, and the Canucks rush back with Burrows and Baertschi and convert.
Shortly after, Martin and Gudbranson finally have their staged fight. Martin looked like he may have won with a strong finish, but both players walk away with their faces in tact. Craig Simpson followed it up best with “back to hockey”.
The Canucks were starting to out play the Leafs significantly, causing several messy turnovers by Leafs of all skillsets.
The powerplay, hoping to be better than the last chance, got moving the puck around the Canucks’ zone early, and Van Riemsdyk is able to bury a rebound off of a Bozak shot to get the Leafs on the board. Marner won’t get credit for his wonderful tertiary pass to Rielly who set up Bozak for the shot.
The goal went straight to the Leafs’ legs and Matthews’ follow-up shift had two really strong homeplate shots against Miller, and then the Bozak line follows up with a good shot as well.
The Canucks did start to come back though, and were creating good zone time against the Leafs. But Kadri takes Chaput into the boards on a clean hit, and Chaput hacks his leg in retaliation to draw a slashing call.
The powerplay had a couple chances but was ultimately unable to score again to tie the game. The did follow that powerplay up with energy as opposed to their first, though, racking up a flurry of scoring chances as the 2nd period was coming to a close.
The period ends 2-1 for the Canucks.
The Leafs came out strong to start the period, and got a few good chances against Miller, who has looked strong so far tonight. On a shift from the Matthews line just 2 minutes into the third, a pass from behind the net by Zach Hyman finds Auston Matthews in front who beats Miller to tie the game.
The Leafs dominated the majority of the period. It was seeming like an eventuality that the Leafs would score, but the Canucks were able to hold them off.
At the end of the period, both teams very nearly scored, with Martin Marincin saving a goal at one end, and Troy Stecher saving one at the other.
But neither team would take the lead, and the period ends 2-2. Off to OT.
The overtime period was flying as per usual, with the first minute filled with rushes back and forth.
Zaitsev was having a strong period, leading the Leafs attack while keeping the Canucks from generating anything dangerous in the D zone.
Gardiner had the most dangerous opportunity of the period, taking a puck across the net in front of Miller but unable to pick it up and get a shot on net.
Andersen caught a puck in a behind him on a shot from Troy Stecher, saving the extra point for the Leafs.
Neither team would score, and we’re off to the shootout.
I’m going to say this every time I write one of these: I hate the shootout. It’s utter randomness and at this point, if I wasn’t writing about it, I’d shut the game off and flip a coin to see who will win.
The Leafs, apart from the 1st period, were the better team tonight. They probably deserved the win tonight.
I thought the Marner line with Bozak and Van Riemsdyk were spectacular tonight. Troy Stecher also looked really good for the Canucks.
My three stars for the night:
- Ryan Miller
- Mitch Marner
- Tyler Bozak