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Morning After Recap: Catching A (Holiday) Break

Good morning folks!

If you celebrate Christmas, this morning is probably a good morning because it’s Christmas Eve. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, this morning is still good because the Leafs somehow held on to win a game that they seemed destined to blow going into the Holiday break.

Two points are two points, however, so we shouldn’t complain too much (we still will). The Leafs are 22-14-1 on the season now after squeaking out a 3-2 win over the New York Rangers. Let’s take a look back at the goals (both those that counted and those that did not).

1-0 Leafs (William Nylander Goal)

A relentless shift by the Leafs would be the difference-maker early on. After a slow start to the game, the Leafs took a tired Rangers group for a ride following an icing call. Over a minute of sustained possession by the Leafs paid off, after the puck was cycled impeccably and Leaf after Leaf danced their way through the zone. Finally, it was Auston Matthews who made his presence known early in this game. A lovely little feed to William Nylander in front of the net led to Nylander potting his second in three games, with the two looking overjoyed to finally be reunited after the goal.

2-0 Leafs (Ron Hainsey Goal)

With the Leafs on a power play that was carried over from the first, Ron Hainsey somehow found himself on the ice, and blasted a puck past Henrik Lundqvist. Hainsey, typically a PK specialist and steady presence on the back end, had come onto the ice in preparation for the penalty to expire, but ended up taking a feed from Mitch Marner and blasting home his 3rd goal of the season. Not too bad if you ask me. 2-0 Leafs.

2-1 Leafs (Jimmy Vesey Goal)

It’s easy to pin this one on Frederik Andersen – and to be fair, he was a little too liberal handling the puck in the early going – but this goal stemmed from a mind-boggling decision by Jake Gardiner to dish the puck behind the net to nobody in particular. As Andersen attempted to rectify his D-man’s miscue, his own mistake would only make things worse. Jimmy Vesey picks up the puck and tucks it behind Andersen to bring the Rangers back within 1.

3-1 Leafs (Auston Matthews Goal)

 

Auston Matthews is back, and he means business. After taking the feed from noted playmaker Zach Hyman, Henrik Lundqvist sprawls forward in an attempt to smother the puck at his feet. But Matthews, uncovered and ever-so-patient, manages to flip the puck onto his backhand and tuck it past Henrik Lundqvist for his 14th goal of the season, and second point of the night.

The goal was Auston’s first since November 30th in Edmonton. Leafs Nation as a whole was reminded how great it is to have him back.

#ItWasFourOne (Nazem Kadri Disallowed Goal)

I won’t say anything more.

3-2 Leafs (JT Miller Goal)

Everything goes wrong for the Leafs here. Roman Polak blows a tire in the corner, and the puck is turned over going up along the boards. From there, the puck is fed by Buchnevich into the slot for JT Miller, who is all alone and tucks the puck through Andersen’s legs.

This was perhaps a bit of a miscue by Andersen, who left his five-hole open and was anticipating a shot going high, but was also the result of an entire breakdown that left Miller all alone in front. If you’re going to point fingers, you’ve got five on each hand for a reason. It’s a 3-2 Game.

Kevin Hayes: Blue Warrior (Disallowed Tying Goal)

What a terrific break for the Leafs. Michael Grabner, noted Tank Nation Legend and speed demon, streaks down the ice and appears to snipe short-side on Frederik Andersen to tie things up at 3.

Fortunately, the Leafs challenge, and…

Kevin Hayes… welcome to the resistance.

The Leafs catch a massive break here, with Hayes being very obviously offside right in front of the Leafs’ bench. The goal is called back, and Matthews’ goal remains the go-ahead.

Despite a continued frantic push by the Rangers to tie things up, and several golden opportunities for the Leafs to pull further ahead, the score would remain at that, and Auston Matthews’ goal would prove to be the game-winner. The Leafs pull out a crucial win before the Holiday break to get back on track, with wins in two of their last three before Santa comes to town.

The Leafs are back in action on Thursday night in Arizona when they pay a visit to Auston Matthews’ childhood team.



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