Leafs Postgame: California Sweeping

The Leafs face one of their former coaches, as well as the star player that they could’ve picked in the 2014 draft in Nick Ritchie tonight, as they look to do something they haven’t done since 1995 – sweep the California road trip. It’s a back-to-back, but hey, if I can write both of the post games, the Leafs can win both the games.

1st Period

The first started like any other game on this road trip. Mostly back and forth hockey, and the other team seeming to always target Nazem Kadri. Also, the Leafs scored the first goal. Right off the draw, Jake Gardiner skated down and set up Patrick Marleau for the opening goal, or so the scoreboard says right now (it may have just been a Josh Manson deflection).

2nd Period

The second frame was a much better period in terms of possession for the Leafs. It seemed like the Ducks weren’t out of their own zone too often, and when they were, it didn’t amount to too much.

Except for the last two minutes, where Pontus Aberg got the Ducks on the board. But then again, those kind of periods are pretty much the norm for a Randy Carlyle coached team.

3rd Period

The third period was nerve wracking to say the least. The Leafs had their chances, the Ducks had theirs, but Toronto managed to keep the puck out of the net, whether it was from Garret Sparks, Jake Gardiner,

or Nikita Zaitsev.

It wasn’t a pretty period, but when it’s the second half of a back to back, and the third game in four nights, it’s not going to be pretty sometimes. And aside from a couple of heart attacks, Sparks did his job.


Going into this game, the Leafs were 2-0 in overtime, spending a grand total of 1:20. The Leafs needed a lot longer than that, and there were a lot more chances for the other team than the other two OTs, but once Tavares-Marner-Rielly hopped on for the second time, the Ducks were toast. After Tavares saved the Leafs from a Ducks odd man rush, Marner and Rielly went back the other way, and Marner made a great pass to Rielly, who had nothing but net to pot the overtime winner, for his ninth goal of the season (that ties his career high already).

The spreadsheets confirm the eye test. It was a close, back and forth game that saw the Leafs pull out on top. It was a goaltending duel between John Gibson, who has the highest save percentage in NHL history among goalies with at least 150 games played, and Garret Sparks, who I’ve been told is bad.

Aside from the goalies, the top six was dominant when they were on the ice, the bottom six not so much, and Jake Gardiner had a really good game against the team that drafted him. All in all, solid game for the Buds, and they sweep the California road trip for the first time in 23 years.

Up next, the Leafs head home and play the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday.

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