Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Postgame: Unlucky Leafs get shutout by Rinne and the Preds

This type of game can either be one to quickly forget or an important learning moment for this team. Going down early enough and then getting a goal called back because of an offside review, these Leafs just got the short end of the stick all-game-long.

Other nights like these, the Leafs are the one with the shutout, but as it is in every single NHL game, the team that had the most luck, won.

Nashville got two goals from their defencemen, including an absolute bomb from Subban, so it’s not surprising that even without knowing the score, the Preds would have won this game.

Leafs lose 4-0 at home to the gross Nashville Predators.

First Period

The beginning of this game was fairly nonchalant, no penalties and not a lot of whistles. Going quickly by them, both teams seemed to get into the game as the minutes ticked by. Matthews found some bad luck with a slapshot early on but was greeted with the lovely ear-drilling noise of the post.

Even Marner was feeling himself and reminiscing about his London days with this move in transition with Tavares.

God damn, that was beautiful.

Not only Matthews was getting to say hello to the post behind Rinne, but Kapanen joined in on the action and was denied a first-period goal. It was just inches away from opening up this game’s scoring; a bad break for the Leafs after providing some nice offensive pressure.

Speaking of offensive pressure, it seems that JVR was able to rub some of his skill off on our young stars, as Matthews tries a familiar move in front of the net.

If he scored that, I would not know what to do at all.

To finish the first period, the Leafs were granted the first powerplay of the game in the dying seconds. Even with seventeen seconds of the man advantage, Matthews was able to sneakily try a shot from behind the net and the puck somehow almost went in off of Rinne’s mask. Not sure if that was on purpose, but that would have been just ridiculous.

The game still scoreless after twenty minutes and the shots 9-7 for the Preds but the Leafs have had by far the better scoring chances.

Second Period

Even with the powerplay oozing into the second period, the Leafs were unable to take advantage of the man advantage.

After the powerplay died, the Leafs took their foot off of the “be more offensive” pedal and let the Preds walk all over them. Hutchinson absolutely robbed them of a goal early on but eventually, he let one through.

A shot from the point from Matias Ekholm on the powerplay gave the Preds the lead a couple minutes into the second period.

But shortly after, the Leafs come back with a purpose and Matthews slides it up into the net – but, Nylander was unfortunately offside on the zone entry and the goal was called back after Laviolette challenged the play.

Even though it occurred a whole 26 seconds before the goal, the zone entry offside was able to be called back.

Throughout this period, after the disastrous offside review call, the Matthews-Nylander connection is in full effect and charing towards the Preds like a hot bullet. Unable to put the puck in the back of the net, but this is becoming Tavares-Marner level of pretty plays.

Speaking of hot bullets, Toronto-native PK Subban absolutely unleashed one towards Hutchinson and got a slight deflect on the way to the back of the net.

There was no way Hutchinson would have been able to stop that one, Subban let it rip past the screen and the visitors now double their lead.

After the Preds goal, the Leafs seemed to die down a little bit but just ever so slightly. Still transitioning the puck well and getting some chances, but just nothing is breaking the right way for them.

After 40 minutes, the evil Preds still lead by two goals to none.

Third Period

The third started the same way this whole game has gone, the Preds getting some shots on goal but the Leafs getting some key chances that didn’t register an official shot.

Unfortunately, the Predators were gifted an odd penalty within the first five minutes of this period. The referees called a tripping call, but were unsure of who even committed the penalty, causing some confusion. But eventually the penalty was served and Marner, Kapanen, and Gauthier did some terrific work keeping the pressure on Nashville and not letting them get a clear chance.

All period long, Nashville is just choking any Leafs offensive chance and not letting them get a clear shot on goal. Either that, or the Leafs are just looking for those high-quality chances to cut the lead in half.

The Leafs have flatlined and seemed to lose any offensive edge they had in this game, only generating BLANK unblocked shot attempts in the third period.

So, of course, the Preds are able to make a random chance into two goals to make it 4-0. Basically the anti-Leafs, they have been able to get a couple lucky breaks this whole game and they won this game because of it.

An extremely frusturating game, the Predators come away from this one with a win over the Leafs.

Final Thoughts

This game was brutal to watch. Nothing was going the Leafs’ way in terms of pucks in the back of the net or random coach challenges. Even though the Leafs were mediocre when it came to shot attempts (48.15 CF% 5v5), the Preds were able to get past the Leafs wingers or defencemen and get shots actually towards the net – dominating the Leafs with a 58.33 FF% at 5v5.

via naturalstattrick.com

You can clearly see that the Leafs had a massive second period. It was the only period that they led the Preds in unblocked shot attempts, by 15 to 12. But they just fell flat on their faces in the third period and were unable to get some goals with still a decent chunk of time left in this game.

via naturalstattrick.com

The raw numbers won’t tell the whole story, but just viewing the heatmap, you can see the massive glowing planet in front of Rinne. The Leafs were clearly trying to get the highest-danger chances and only those types of chances.

That has been the Leafs motto this whole season, and it has obviously worked out for them so far. They just ran into some good goaltending and bad puck bounces. Shit happens.

Leafs return Thursday night against the struggling New Jersey Devils, so I guess there’s hope for this week to be a good one still.


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