If Mike Babcock wants the Leafs to get six points every five games, you could say the team was sort of playing with house money tonight, going into their 35th game riding a three game win streak. Still, with their climb up the standings reliant on putting points in the bank against divisional opponents, grabbing four in the sunshine state in 24-hours is obviously a big deal. And that’s just what the Leafs, who are actually good, did.
Despite the back-to-back, both teams had a bit of jump in the beginning of this one. Then Auston Matthews scored first for the Leafs, again. It’s just what he does now. 18 goals on the season before the turn of the calendar, just absurd output from the rookie this month. How absurd, you ask? Grabovski-level absurd.
Matthews is one of two Leafs rookies over the last qtr-century to score 8 goals in one calendar month. The other is Grabovski in Nov 2008.
— Randy Numbers (@randynumbers) December 30, 2016
Matthews goal pic.twitter.com/d0oUk84RVz
— Stephanie (@myregularface) December 30, 2016
Toronto went into the first break up 1-0 but in the second period is where the wheels started to fall off a little, even though Bozak notched one to give them a two-goal lead before a pair from the Lightning on some awful breakdowns – notably a Carrick giveaway on the tying goal from Palat. Another two goal cushion, another blown lead in Florida in as many nights.
Play was understandably a bit sloppy in the third for two tired teams, but the Leafs did manage to generate their share of chances. Still, this one seemed destined for overtime, and there it would go, where The Dream delivers.
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) December 30, 2016
With the assist on that overtime winner, Matthews moves into a tie for the lead in rookie points with Laine, but holds two games in hand on the Jet.
Here’s how things shook out in the shot-attempt battle, via hockeystats.ca. No doubt a close one.
It’s hard not to give this to Matthews, but Bibeau was solid in the first Leafs win this season by a goaltender not named Andersen. Bibeau turned away 25 of 27 shots (0.926 sv%) for his first career victory, so he now has a puck with tape around it to go on his wall.
SEE YOU NEXT TIME
The next time the Leafs play will be on Sunday in the Centennial Classic against the Wings. And they could definitely use these couple days off after yet another back-to-back and four straight road wins. Puck drops in the afternoon, 3PM Eastern.
The rink is coming together!
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) December 28, 2016