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Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA

Postgame: Leafs on the other end of comeback against the Avalanche

Sometimes it’s tough to just close out games – shut down the opposition earlier on so they wouldn’t be able to blow past you in the score. But the Avalanche did exactly that against the Leafs, coming back from a 2-0 deficit to win 4-3 with two empty-net goals for the win.

It is certainly frustrating, but the Leafs were just unable to play their style of game. Getting in those key areas and setting up high-danger scoring chances were completely unavailable for them.

It was either the Avs doing some impressive suppressive work or the Leafs really just messing it all up for themselves – it looked like a bit of both.

Recap

The game started out slowly, but as soon as the Leafs were able to have a powerplay opportunity, they were suddenly sparked ablaze and getting the chances they wanted.

Nylander certainly impressed and demonstrated more and more of what we knew he has been all along. A powerful skater that is able to transition the puck and keep it in the zone, he was running the show out there.

He was easily Toronto’s best player in the first period but was just not able to simply put one in the back of the net.

The first tally of the game didn’t come until the second – when Igor Ozhiganov scored his third goal of the season with an absolute howitzer to give the Leaf the lead.

Assisted by Rielly and Matthews, Ozhiganov now has seven points in 38 games of the season and was honestly one of the better players in this game.

There was Par Lindholm goal immediately after Ozhiganov scored, but it was eventually ruled offside and denied.

Shortly after the Leafs got on the board, Kasperi Kapanen decided to get involved and net a goal of his own.

Just 74 seconds after the Ozhiganov goal, Johnsson assists Kapanen with a sleek behind-the-net pass to double the lead.

With Andersen standing on his head and the Leafs carrying a two-goal lead after 25 minutes of play, things seemed to be going well for the Leafs. At this point, the Avs were still (and always have been the entire game) ahead in the shot attempt numbers, but who cares when you’re winning a game right?

Well, the Avalanche decided to really make the whole “score effects” a thing and were absolutely firing on all cylinders to get into this game and get a goal of their own.

Of course, it had to be the Avs top line that gets the job done for them. Swedish King Gabe Landeskog makes a beautiful tip to cut the lead in half and strike fear into everyone’s heart.

At the rate this game was going, everyone knew the Avs were going to tie it up.

And they did with a broken down play from Kadri and Hainsey turning into a prime scoring opportunity the other way. Hainsey tries to play the pass, but Rantanen has too deadly of a shot to not pass up the opportunity to get his 21st goal of the season.

The Avalanche deserved that goal – completely running the show after they were able to get their first.

But the period didn’t end all-level, ageless wonder Carl Soderberg on the penalty kill was able to create some offense and give the Avs the lead before the period ended.

Some missteps from Gardiner and just plain sloppy play lead to this goal from Soderberg. Pretty flukey, but the way the Avs have been playing all season, shooting percentage is on their side. Also, they were completely dominating the Leafs at even-strength, so why not get a short-handed goal?

But just likes the Avs earlier in the season, sometimes luck is on the Leafs’ side and Marner was able to reap the benefits.

Six minutes into the third period, Marner was able to control the puck in transition and flicks the puck beautifully into the top corner behind Varlamov.

The game was back to being even and the Leafs just needed to hang on in a game they truly did not deserve to be tied in. Evidently, they were unable to do that.

Soderberg comes back and rightly puts the Avs in front with about eight minutes to go in the game. A tricky pass from below the net puts Andersen in an awkward position and Soderberg is able to rifle the puck from Compher behind the Danish keeper.

The Avs added two more empty-net goals – so at least the score doesn’t look as bad as it does. The team from Colorado wins 6(4)-3.


There is no real reason to panic about a loss like this, the better team definitely won but seeing Nylander’s first period puts some good feelings into the fan heart.

Significantly, Dermott, Ozhiganov, and Lindholm were the only skaters to have a over-50% CF rating in this game at even-strength. Not the best showing from the whole team, but it’s expected when the Avs are such a one-line team and Dermott/Ozhiganov would not be seeing them at all.

To really get an optimal lineup and roster changes that some people are begging for, the Leafs need losses like this. To be completely demoralized and have two days off after, can be spun as a good thing.

The test coming up is probably the biggest of their season, facing the monster Tampa Bay Lightning after a loss like that can be either amazing or completely shattering.

We shall see, but this is an exciting time for the team with the playoffs looming ahead. There might not be a lot of thought given to the playoffs, but there are always surprises and the Leafs have the talent to surprise with the current roster they have.

Don’t take it too hard.

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