With the Leafs 2018-19 season just around the corner, it’s almost time to start hyping up the Leafs season. So, what better way to do that than to look back at some of the best games from last season.
This list is made of some of the most exciting and entertaining games from the season, making for some excellent moments this year.
Honourable Mention: Dallas @ Toronto – 6-5 (SO)
This one was hectic to say the least. The fluky Nazem Kadri goal to start the game, the four unanswered goals from the Stars, the James van Riemsdyk hat trick, and the late tying goal with 16 seconds left, this game had it all. We even had a goalie change partway through! The reason why it didn’t crack the list is because it’s an often forgotten one, but still exciting regardless.
10. Toronto @ Winnipeg – 7-2
What better way to kick off this list than with the game that kicked off the season. The Leafs had expectations going into 2017-18, and they lived up to them on the first night, routing the Jets 7-2 in Winnipeg. The big three each chipped in with a goal, Patrick Marleau had two in his Maple Leafs debut, and Frederik Andersen was stellar, especially on the penalty kill in the first period.
9. Boston @ Toronto – 3-2 (OT)
An underrated entertaining game, the first of 11 games played between these two teams this year, and the first in a back to back home and home between them, this one saw a goaltending duel between Andersen and Khudobin kept it a low scoring affair, but a late goal from JVR, and a memorable OT winner from Marleau made this a fun game to look back on.
8. Chicago @ Toronto – 4-3 (OT)
Ah yes, the game where we all got worried that the Leafs were going to lose because the Blackhawks got to an early 2-0 lead, and the late 3-1 goal from former Leaf Richard Panik made it seem all but over, based on how it always was with the Leafs, especially against a team they rarely beat in the Blackhawks. But, the Leafs showed us that they aren’t the Leafs of the past, and got a couple goals from Connor Brown and JVR (again), and capped off by a great shot from Auston Matthews in overtime.
7. Toronto @ Edmonton – 6-4
This game cracks the list because it was just hilariously bad. Dominic Moore and Matt Martin contributed to the offense for the Leafs, it was a back and forth high scoring affair, and Kris Russell even scored. In fact, he scored twice… once in the Leafs net, and the game winner in his own net.
6. The Centennial Game
This game will go down in history, not just because it was played on the 100 year anniversary of the Leafs first ever NHL game (then as the Toronto Arenas), but also because of how great of a game it was… for the Leafs, the Hurricanes probably want to forget this one. Highlighted by a great save from Freddy (as seen in the thumbnail), and a four point game from Mitch Marner, this game was remembered not just because of the fact that it was played at an odd time of 2pm.
5. Toronto @ Ottawa – 4-3
For me, this game will be remembered as the turning point for the Leafs season. They had been going through a very mediocre stretch, where they lost a lot of winnable games. And it started off this way with the Leafs down 3-1 after two, against the Sens, who seemed to have their number the last couple years, despite sucking a lot. But, the Leafs came back, including Marner deking out Craig Anderson like he did in the NHL 18 trailer.
4. NY Islanders @ Toronto – 5-0
While maybe not the most exciting game, this was hands down the Leafs best all around this year. Freddy got a shut out, the Leafs racked up five goals, and two of them were firsts for Travis Dermott and Justin Holl. And perhaps they played so well that it convinced a certain first line center on the Islanders that this team was good.
3. Boston @ Toronto (Game 3) – 4-2
This series wasn’t the most memorable in terms of good games, but game 3 was definitely the highlight of the series. Down 2-0, with both losses being terrible, this was the game that got Leafs fans back in it. Freddy stood on his head, Marleau had two goals, including his 69th career playoff goal (nice!), and Auston Matthews scored another memorable game winning goal.
Oh, and that save from from Freddy in the dying seconds of the game.
2. All Games vs. Montreal
There’s a four way tie for second, because I couldn’t pick just one game against the Habs, especially when the Leafs won all of them. Whether it was finally ending the slump with a Matthews OT winner, routing the Habs 6-0 in their own building, Andreas Johnsson scoring his first NHL goal in a 4-0 shutout from Curtis McElhinney, or the season finale which saw the Leafs set a few franchise records while completing the sweep of the Habs, the teams shared a lot of memorable moments in 2017-18, although they’re mostly memorable for the Leafs.
1. NY Rangers @ Toronto – 8-5
Coming off a 7-2 rout of the Jets, the Leafs entered their home opener, and exploded to a 5-1 lead before the end of the first. And then, it happened. After watching the Leafs blow lead after lead in 2016-17, the Leafs blew a 5-1 lead before the end of the second, and you just knew that this season was going to continue that lead blowing tradition. But, the Leaf laughed it off, and scored three more goals in the third to give the Leafs an 8-5 win.
It was hectic, back and forth, and showed us the kind of season that we were in for. Or, that we thought we were in for, and then Babcock ruined it with chip and chase hockey. Highlighted by the most casual end to end goal I’ve ever seen from Jake Gardiner, two from Zach Hyman’s, and William Nylander getting credit for two goals, and ending up with neither of them, there was something about how crazy this game was that made it the best one for me.