POSTGAME: Leafs convincingly overtake Lightning

Image courtesy of NHL.com

Tonight we have a pivotal match up between the Lightning and the Maple Leafs tonight between two teams neck and neck for the same playoff position.

1st period

Full disclosure – I spent more of this period fumbling with streams than I did watching. My apologies for the spotty coverage.

The five minutes of the period certainly set the stage for a wonderful game, as both teams traded dangerous chances.

A ridiculous play finally gets the Leafs on the board halfway through the first. Roman Polak slaps a shot at Vasilevski and it just floats over him into the net. James Van Riemsdyk was there tracking the puck for a baseball goal, but was unable to make contact and it finds its own way across the line for the always-fun Polak goal.

Frederik Andersen is having a very strong game thus far, although the Leafs have mostly controlled the play keeping him from having to stand on his head. Ideal situation maybe.

The period would end with the Leafs up 1-0.

2nd period

Early in the period the Leafs were showing signs of taking control of the game again, with a strong 2 minutes of puck possession advantage.

Another squeaky one beats Vasilevski as Rielly’s point shot squeezes through his legs to put the Leafs up 2-0.

And, immediately after, Hunwick puts it off the post and Matt Martin fins the rebound to put it in for the 3-0 lead. A great job by Martin to get his stick on the fast-moving puck and beat Vasilevski.

The Leafs continued to control the play through the next few minutes. On some good cycle time, a net front scramble leads to Connor Brown putting another puck past Vasilevski for the 4-0 lead. Vasilevski would be pulled for Peter Budaj at this point.

A Boyle tripping penalty would send the Lightning to the powerplay, giving them a chance to climb back into the game. But they would be unsuccessful in doing so on the score sheet. They were able to generate some momentum though that they carried through most of he remainder of the 2nd.

However, the Leafs would interrupt the Lightning’s success with a point shot that gets blocked in front and lands on Van Riemsdyk’s stick, who fires a beautiful shot post-and-in to put the Leafs up 5-0 with 4 minutes left in the 2nd.

Near the end of the second period, the Leafs would take two consecutive penalties from Zaitsev and Hunwick to give the Lightning their best opportunity on a 5-on-3 powerplay.

One of the penalties would expire, but the second would end with time left on a 5-on-4, but the Leafs leading the Lightning 5-0.

3rd period

Quickly the Leafs’ penalty kill completed the stint, and the Leafs successfully escape the Lightning’s 5-on-3 advantage.

Some physicality had Kadri taking an extra penalty that sent the Leafs to the penalty kill yet again. And, yet again, they would successfully kill it.

The Lightning were starting to get some chances midway through the 3rd, and showing signs of life, but Andersen continued to stand strong.

The game would end with the Leafs earning a dominant win, 5-0 over the Lightning

FINAL THOUGHTS

No question that the Leafs showed up tonight on a night they really needed to. No one on the Leafs was particularly bad but I thought if anyone didn’t join the domination show the Leafs put on it was Jake Gardiner. A very rough showing for him in his first try at a top pairing role in a while.

My three stars for the night:

  1. Frederik Andersen (33 save shutout)
  2. Morgan Rielly (1 goal, 1 assist, 63% CF%)
  3. Roman Polak (1 goal, 59% CF%)

The Leafs jump back into a playoff spot tonight with this win. It is an absolutely key win for them.

Tune in on Saturday when the Leafs face the Chicago Blackhawks in Toronto. Goodnight, and go Leafs.

  • Stan Smith

    I’m surprised the Leafs aren’t being criticized for being outshot 12 -2 in the third. My opinion is that it’s nice to say you are better off spending more time in the other team’s zone while defending a lead than in your own, but in reality you need as many skaters between the opposition and your net, as you can have. You can’t cheat looking for those long stretch passes, or try lifting sticks from behind players. You stay on the right side of the puck, do not let the other team any penetration in front of your net, and make your goalie’s saves easy ones. That is exactly what they Leafs did in last night’s game. It might have been one of the best periods the Leafs have played with a lead this season. They smothered the Lightning and didn’t let them get any life.

  • Glen

    Big clutch win, should help young guys learn how to do it, still a ways to go. If I see that fishing photo one more time I will barf. Strictly a non issue period. Would people sooner see the guys in a hotel with a two four of beer drinking themselves into oblivion.

    • getrdone

      In defense of the intermission sector, they did show the Leafs in a historic comeback as well, maybe we should take that as the path for this group of Leafs since neither of these historic perspectives have anything to do with the reality of todays team.

  • lukewarmwater

    Now that was an enjoyable evening as the leafs recovered from their fishing trip catching minnows. That’s right as out here in God’s country we use those fish that the leafs caught for bait to catch our big Chinook salmon. Don’t believe me ask that good kid from God’s country, the British Properties, none other than Morgan Rielly who had a goal and an assist tonight.
    Next time guys have the boys of the number one reality show WICKED TUNA TAKE YOU OUT FOR SOME 600 LB. TUNA.
    Great to see Roman the Pulverisor Polak drill one of his cannonading shots from the point to get the leafs on the score board and then have the lads pop in three more in a short span in the second.
    Andersen solid in the nets as the refs decided that Tampa needed some power play practice but to no avail.
    Good to see Kadri refuse to take any crap and surprise, surprise nice to see J.V.R. stand up for the young man who makes his line tick, none other than marvelous Mitch Marner.
    Matthews indeed played a strong defensive game and was really solid along the boards. No problem in him having a slight scoring slump. After all number 8 for Washington had a 10 goal drought recently.
    The tough Hawks Saturday as the leafs leap frogged back into the playoffs and then Monday play the Bruins who are getting their ass kicked good tonight as their fairy tale is ending in a hurry. The leafs are 3 and 0 against the sweaty Bruins. Same goes with the Islanders who lost to Carolina and the Jets tonight.
    Keep it going leafs as you drive for the playoffs and upset that loser sportsnet executive who thought it was cute showing ancient old news of a leaf collapse in which 80% of the current team didn’t play with that club. No class Sportsnet.

  • lukewarmwater

    Well, well my first comment didn’t get posted. Did I upset somebody by asking why that b.s. replay of the leaf collapse a few years back was some cheap shot by a leaf hating executive of sportsnet. Sorry loser that was in the past as this young, entertaining , leaf team is quickly becoming a power house. Sorry loser, only a few leafs are left from that club that lost to the Bruins. Btw this season the leafs have kicked Boston’s ass three games in a row this season and will again Monday night. Sorry loser executive, it is freaking 2017, GET WITH THE TIMES.

    • Capt.jay

      Ya I kinda found it weird that we needed to be reminded of the past. Especially the way it was presented. There was no need for it exept to upset fan base that endured so much compared to others.

      • lukewarmwater

        Jay over the years having worked in p.r. in sports and having written sport books I got to know a lot of talented broadcasters and journalists. The vast majority dislike the leafs and that includes a significant number of sports media in Toronto. Quite frankly I would hope they would be professional and stay relatively neutral as that is their job, unlike Hab media cheer leaders.
        I think who ever put that segment together was some Hab fanatic who has only see his little Habbies win one cup and he was just a running nose kid when they did win that last cup in 1993.
        To summarise I ain’t taking anymore horsebleep from these loser media people. The jokes, the laughs, the put downs our over baby, you just have to look at the amazing young talent on this squad who play a dynamic, entertaining and winning style of hockey. Sorry leaf haters you are going to have a lot of long seasons as my leafs just get better and better. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

    • The first layer of comment moderation on the new system is automated now, so it may have noticed some overly-aggressive language and auto-filtered it. For what its worth, I agree that it made no sense to bring that team up.