Leafs Postgame: Star Wars

Tonight the Leafs hosted the Dallas Stars for this Thursday night hockey game. This was the 10x centennial game, or kilogame, for Ron Hainsey (his 1000th) in the league, and the Leafs correctly started the night off with a video tribute to his long and successful career.

The Leafs continued to try to live life without Auston Matthews, and this game saw a different major change to the lineup. The bottom pairing will be Travis Dermott and Justin Holl, after a few games with Marincin and Ozhiganov bottoming out the defense.

These two high-flying offensive teams played earlier this year and the game finished in a barn burner — 7 to 4 for the Maple Leafs. Here’s how tonight went…

1st period

The offenses were both on high tempo tonight to start the game, which was a nice change from the Leafs’ last game; what a sleep-worthy event it was in Calgary.

The new-look powerplay for the Leafs got its first chance tonight, with John Tavares moving over to Auston Matthews’ old spot on the left half boards, and Patrick Marleau moving to the front of the net. Their first opportunity went uncapitalized, though, as the mid-period advantage was fruitless.

Andreas Johnsson was looking sharp, including this contribution to the D-to-D passing work of newly united pair Holl and Dermott:

Unfortunately, there was no scoring in the period, and as such it ended 0-0, with the Leafs leading 9-7 in shots on goal.

2nd period

The best chance of the game in the thus-far-scoreless came early in the second, as Morgan Rielly lost his footing sending Jason Dickinson and Brett Ritchie on a 2-on-1 against Ron Hainsey, and Frederik Andersen has to make a great save to keep it out.

The next best chance came to John Tavares, who takes a great pass to the side of the net from Mitch Marner that just squeezes through Anton Khudobin and beside the net.

Not long after, the Stars capitalized at the end of a powerplay, as Jamie Benn tips a Tyler Seguin wrist shot into the net through the legs of Andersen:

A late game powerplay for the Leafs again was not capitalized upon, and the second period ended with the Stars leading 1-0. Shots on goal are now 16 to 15 for the Maple Leafs.

3rd period

The third period started with a powerplay for the Leafs, that they did not capitalize on, yet again.

Then, the Stars followed up with a dagger of a goal that put them up by 2 goals, on a great passing play on a that Andersen stood very little chance on:

Note: this is not a powerplay goal as suggested in the tweet.

Then the Leafs appeared to come back and bring the game to a 2-1 score, but the refs waved it off as it hit the post from the Patrick Marleau shot:

The Leafs chased and chased that goal into the late parts of the game. The tempo was high and the chances were there but unfortunately, there seemed like there was just no finish in this game. But then the hopes got risen as Patrick Marleau picks up a powerplay goal to bring it to 2-1:

Unfortunately, that was where the charge ended. The Leafs created a ton of puck time, and great chances for the tying goal, but they just ran out of time. Had that urgency come earlier in the period, they might have come back to win this game.

Final Thoughts

This game was definitely a stinky one. The Leafs had chances but there was no puck luck to get the goals they needed. The Stars didn’t really over power the Leafs offensively, or shut them down defensively. The Leafs seemed to beat themselves in this one.

My three stars of the night:

  1. Tyler Seguin
  2. Jamie Benn
  3. Patrick Marleau

Tune in Saturday for Hockey Night in Canada, when the Leafs will take on the Pittsburgh Penguins, in Pittsburgh (and I’ll be there!).

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