Postgame: Leafs Tranquilize the Wild

The Leafs were in American Canada tonight, taking on the Minnesota Wild on Hockey Night in Canada. On a 3-game win streak, the Leafs looked to extend that to four against a solid Minnesota team.

1st Period

An early chance by Eric Staal seemed to suggest that the Leafs might be in trouble again, as they have always struggled to contain Staal, the Toronto native, but the save was made by Frederik Andersen.

The Leafs took the play back to the Wild and earned a penalty draw by some tough board work fighting for the puck by Josh Leivo. On the ensuing powerplay, the 1st unit capitalized on their chances again, after a great Rielly-to-Marner-to-Matthews puck move found the top corner from a great shot by Matthews. Not only did Matthews find top cheese, but he had to knock the puck out of the air to make the shot happen:

Another chance for that Staal line came as the Leafs let Granlund slip through and find room in front of the net, but not enough to get the puck within the net, as Andersen made a great save with the tip of his glove:

Not long after, the Leafs got some fortunate luck as the 4th line worked the puck in front of the net, and the Tyler Ennis pass was deflected into the net off the skate of the Minnesota defender, Seeler:

Before the period ended, though, Eric Staal ended up making the earlier chance prophetic after all, when he managed to beat Andersen short side with a quick shot:

That was the last effort of the period, and so it ended 2-1 for the Maple Leafs. Toronto was behind in shots at this point, 8 to 11.

2nd Period

The Wild started very strong in this period, and looked to be re-energized coming out of the locker room down a goal.

They would score first in the period, as a lofted puck fooled Dermott and was picked up by Joel Eriksson Ek, who found Jordan Greenway for the one-timer goal to tie the game at 2’s:

It didn’t take long for the Leafs to re-establish their lead, as Zach Hyman deflected the shot from Ozhiganov into the net to make it 3-2. The goal was reviewed and determined to be a deflection, and not an intentional re-direct by the glove, and a good goal as such.

That was the end of the action in the second, and as such it ends 3-2 for the Maple Leafs.

3rd period

This one started strong again for the Wild and the Leafs were struggling to contain the forecheck against. About halfway through the period, a fanned shot ends up on Jason Zucker’s stick and he roofs it past an unsuspecting Andersen to tie the game again at 3:

The Leafs have been struggling this game at exiting their zone, not as much from Minnesota being great, but from Toronto having trouble finding the right pass options. When they did get out, the continued struggling at then entering the Wild’s zone. So, not an easy night for them.

However, luck found the Leafs once more, as another shot hits a defender in front to take the lead 4-3, this time off a shot from Nazem Kadri:

Of course, the flurry of chances came, including some with Minnesota employing the extra attacker with the goalie pulled. However, Zach Hyman added an empty net goal, and the Leafs, and Frederik Andersen, held tight to get the win.

Final Thoughts

The Leafs really chased this game, and got some goals on luck and luck alone. Truthfully, this was not a deserved win. They were hemmed in by the Staal line and had no consistent control in the other end with any of the other lines.

Here are my three stars for the night:

  1. Eric Staal
  2. Jason Zucker
  3. Zach Hyman

The Leafs play next on Tuesday against a surging Buffalo Sabres team, in Buffalo – definitely will be a game to watch. See you there for that one, and Go Leafs Go!

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  • mst

    Marner has 91 pts in his last 82 nhl regular season games! He has 96pts in his last 82 nhl games! Pretty awesome! I cant remember the last time a Leaf did something like that.

    I recently posted the stats on pension plan puppets and asked the question: which is larger 91 or 61? Asking that question got me banned!!!!

    I guess people over at PPP don’t like it when their expert opinions are questioned. They know best and other opinions don’t matter!