Leafs Postgame: Rock You Like A Hurricane

USATSI_9888579
Photo Credit: James Guillory/USA TODAY SPORTS

After a rough loss to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday Night, the Leafs were put in the uncomfortable position of needing the away leg of a back to back, with Curtis McElhinney in net, to be their bounce-back game. To make matters worse, they had a sneaky-decent opponent in the Carolina Hurricanes.

The end result? A commanding 4-0 victory, nearly negating the events of the night prior against all odds.

The Rundown

The first period of this game felt like two teams trying to feel each other out. Neither side had more than a scoring chance or two, with Carolina’s first huge moment coming off of a Jake Gardiner giveaway, and Toronto’s one chance to strike coming from Cam Ward flipping the puck out straight into Josh Leivo’s stick, though he made the save just as Curtis McElhinney did earlier.


Come the second period, though? A steady breeze of goals began to take form. Connor Brown scored the above goal off a feed from James van Riemsdyk, something we all assumed was going to be the prettiest play of the night. Until this masterpiece happened:


Auston Matthews, as always, continued to be the collective love of the fanbase’s life with this absolutely obscene performance while falling down; a play so nice that he even dropped an usually enthusiastic celebration. That rounded out the second period, which set up the potential for a third that could’ve gone any sort of way, really.


Tonight, the Leafs decided to keep chugging. Gardiner widened the gap six minutes in by ripping home his eighth goal of the season, and two minutes later, Brown managed to score the exact same goal from the second period all over again, ending Cam Ward’s night:


Unlike most nights, the Leafs persisted, having their most cohesive period yet, not only preventing a Canes comeback, but preventing them from even picking up so much as a goal.

Why The Leafs Won

sac

The Canes ended up outshooting the Leafs, but Toronto held their own surprisingly well for a team that led uninterrupted for 39 minutes. More importantly, they made the most of most of their lethal opportunities, and got some amazing support in net.

Blue Warrior


This is going to be a co-warrior, and it’s going to both Jake Gardiner and Curtis McElhinney. McElhinney had his best performance yet as a member of the Leafs, bailing them out at a few key moments and picking up his first shutout in approximately two years.

Gardiner started the game off with a brutal mistake, but stepped up to pick up a goal, two assists, and was Toronto’s best possession defenceman on the night; a useful impact to have when playing against a team that’s building around those types of players. Most impressive of all was his contribution to the Matthews goal, which might go unnoticed in the highlight packs:

See You Next Time


With the win, the Leafs return to third in the Atlantic Division, and are now back in the thick of the title race with… well, basically everybody other than Buffalo, Tampa, and Detroit. Toronto will have to build on this Tuesday, in Round 2 of the Matthews/Laine bowl at the Air Canada Centre. They’ll take on the Jets at 7:30 PM.