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Photo Credit: Rick Osentoski / USA TODAY Sports

Leafs Postgame: Our Kind of Farewell

The Toronto Maple Leafs played their last game at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena tonight, and they did so in style. While they made fans bite their nails a few times, the Blue and White held it together and completed their season series sweep with a 5-4 win over the Red Wings.

The Rundown

The humble beginnings of this game saw Toronto chasing the puck far more than they should, and often not looking incredibly organized. There was a feeling that it would come back to bite them. For a moment, it did, as Gustav Nyquist put the Wings up 1-0 with five minutes remaining in the opening frame.

But the Leafs didn’t curl up and admit defeat. Instead, they sent the big three out. Suddenly…

1-1.

2-1.

3-1. One by one, in sequence, thirteen minutes from start to finish. Now, it wasn’t just a constant string of happy from there; Nick Jensen closed the gap back up a minute and a half after Nylander’s handiwork.

Of course, the Red Wings pushed back late in the third period, to create massive panic. Toronto went into it’s typical “we’re not doing it, we swear” shell in the final minutes, and Niklas Kronwall capitalized by finishing off a great play orchestrated by Nyquist and Henrik Zetterberg to tie the game.

The good thing is that the Leafs didn’t curl up and admit defeat from there. James Van Riemsdyk responded three minutes later by putting Toronto back in the lead, and Matthews added insurance a minute later. While Mike Green restarted the sense of fear with 45 seconds to go with his 14th goal of the season, the Leafs were able to hold on just enough to secure the victory.

Blue Warrior

Extending the rookie goal record. Typing the rookie point record. Most goals by any Leaf in the last 15 years. The most obvious gem in an already bright shining mine. Auston Matthews, what else is left to say?

See You Next Time

With the win, the Leafs jump to second (!!) in the Atlantic Division, leading the Senators via ROW tiebreaker despite them both having 91 points. An overtime loss for Tampa Bay leaves them five points back of the Leafs, while the Islanders, Canes, and Flyers remain seven back. Things are looking pretty, pretty good right now.

We’ll see you again Monday at 7:00 PM, when the Leafs take on the Buffalo Sabres.

    • Capt.Jay

      The oilers success is hard to celebrate unless you’re an oilers fan. I’ve heard things like “success through extreme incompetence”, and “so many chances that they should be far better than they have been in the last couple of years”. The rest of the league is bitter that a joke of franchise got chance after chance and is celebrating as if all is forgotten. I’m sorry, but I don’t respect the oilers or where they’re headed. No other team in history got what Edmonton did.

      • JB#1

        Well said Capt. Jay.

        Like you, I can’t respect the Oilers since what other team has been gifted with 2 generational talents in a single generation

        Now that the Leafs have been given their generational talent (A. Matthews) by the hockey gods I don’t feel bitter towards the Oilers, instead I look forward to the future when the Leafs will steam-roll the Oilers in the Cup finals year after year…GLG

        • Stan Smith

          The Oiler this season is not the same Oiler’s team of the past 5 or 6 years. Craig McTavish thought he could do it with all skilled youth and offence. Peter Chiarelli added veteran leadership, defence, and a little toughness to compliment the kids (sound familiar Leaf fans). I’m not saying they are Cup contenders, but they are definitely a better team.

          • Justin.PI

            Lol don’t act as if chiarelli is some mastermind. You guys pulled a horseshoe out of your ass and drafted mcdavid. Take out him and you’re a top 3 for lottery

          • Capt.Jay

            If it wasn’t for McDavid your team would still be a mess. In 7 years you had an unheard of four 1st overalls, one 3rd, one 4th, one 7th, and one 19th because you had two 1st rounders that year. Any team would be in the position you’re in or better with that. Chiarelli got fleeced in the Hall trade, overpaid for Lucic, and got lucky with Maroon, (did he make that trade? I can’t remember). Anyway. Give a monkey those picks and you’d have the same result. Albeit finally.

    • getrdone

      Too bad that the Oilers didn’t have a hockey operations dept. when they had all the good fortune of choosing first what? 5 of 8 years? then they would really be a contending team. Thank goodness that finally the Leafs a high quality management team that have figured it out after many years of hockey operations failure and ownership stupidity.

  • lukewarmwater

    Indeed looking very good Jeff as Auston Moses Matthews has his second game winning goal in a row and a dominating performance at both ends of the ice with the 2 goals and an assist and ever improving defensive play. Marvelous Mitch simply marvelous as you so astutely pointed out he played for his former junior team hopped on the jet and got that beauty of a breakaway goal. The third compatriot Willy threads the needle with a classic toe drag. As William finally said something significant on the t.v. broadcast by calling it a rookie hat trick in the second period.
    Not Andersen’s best night after a sensational March, but he came up with the big saves at the end to preserve another hard fought road victory. The leafs now tied with the choking Senators and pulling away from Tampa and the Islanders. A tough remaining 5 games but a little pay back time for the leaf against Buffalo. Got to stay out of the penalty box but perhaps the Sabres goalie might get a little more interference in front of the net after the sweaty Sabres put Andersen out of the last game.
    Another thrilling and chilling, peformance by this young dynamic squad of oh soooo talented rookies. Keep it going leafs. Go leafs Go.

    • getrdone

      LukeWW said “Auston Moses Matthews has his second game winning goal in a row and a dominating performance at both ends of the ice with the 2 goals and an assist and ever improving defensive play”. But the stat sheet says that Matthews was a -1 on the night going head to head with Zetterberg and did not do so well at the dot against this wylie old vet. Yes he displayed excellent puck and shooting skills, but as much as I hate to say it this was not the Leafs best night and a big thankyou to Andersen.

      • Stan Smith

        Matthews had a great night tonight. Henrik Zetterberg is a future hall of famer. Matthews went head to head with him, and came out on top. Yes Zetterberg dominated on the faceoffs, all of the Wing centres did. Yes Matthews didn’t shut him down, but he did outscore him with 2 goals and 1 assist to Zetterberg’s 2 assists. He also started, and finished the Leaf scoring. The performance might not have been perfect, but it was still a great performance. Andersen played great too, but was far from perfect, allowing 4 goals. The important thing is the win.

  • jimithy

    Another disgusting performance by the fortunate lucky winning team. Detroit ran circles around the Leafs and literally played with them like a toy. But, if not for their goalie, the Leafs would’ve been blue toast.
    This team is awful in their own zone. Awful. Really awful.

    • Stan Smith

      Regardless of how good a team you have the opposition is going to spend time in your zone. When they do you need to keep them to the outside as much as possible, distrupt their flow as much as you can, and limit the scoring chances. The Leafs are much better at doing that with this team. They don’t have a very big defence, so they can’t outmuscled the other team, but they do disrupt the flow much better than past teams, and limit the chances. There is a huge difference in how this team plays in their own end as opposed to past teams.

  • Kanuunankuula

    Good. This should be a real dagger to Detroit. They now miss the playoffs for the first time in 25 years, and a big part of it was a Babcock coached Toronto. Is “Blashill is as good as Babcock” still working as mantra?

  • Glen

    Not exactly a thing of beauty but a win is a win. Rookie of the year should be no contest with Matthews the winner, the guy plays the game like a vet and is showing leadership at this important time. Time for the guys to get the Buffalo monkey of their back. GLG

  • Stan Smith

    You can teach the skills. You cannot teach a team to win. The Leafs this year seem to have that ability. As for your comment “Toronto went into it’s typical “we’re not doing it, we swear” shell in the final minutes”, like it or not, when you are protecting a lead, you play the game differently. It is easy to say you need to play more in the other team’s end, but you simply are not going to get the shot attempts you would if you weren’t leading, the defence isn’t going to pinch, and the forwards aren’t going to cheat offensively . The opposition is pulling out all the stops, have their best players on the ice, and an extra attacker. You try to limit their chances, and look for an opening to try and put the game away, something the Leafs have been better at this season. The big thing I see is they don’t panic.

  • Gary Empey

    Here we are in a playoff race with one week to go. It is surprising there is no article on the Leafs today. How is Leivo and Sosh doing? Will they be available for any of these two back to backs coming up in this last week?