The Leafs had a moment of sweet, sweet victory on Saturday evening, taking home a 4-3 overtime win over Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens when Noted Canadiens Call Refuser John Tavares netted the final tally of the night in extra minutes.
It was a nice call-back to Tavares’ first game as a Leaf, where he also scored against Montreal in a “see, this is why I didn’t want to sign with you” moment of beauty for Leafs fans – but with less than 24 hours of rest and another game on the docket this evening, it would have been nice to have gotten a regulation win instead.
The Leafs will have to push aside any fatigue as they face off against the New York Rangers at 7:00 PM EST Sunday night, traveling to Madison Square Garden for a matchup against yet another Original Six Franchise ahead of a week that will take them to Colorado, Vegas, and then Arizona.
Colorado, Arizona, and New York are all lottery teams at the moment, so theoretically it should be an easy week coming up. But after Arizona squeaked out a win against Dallas on Saturday night and New York got an extra day of rest, the team will have to push for every point they can get to stay ahead of Montreal in the standings.
William Nylander scored last night, so things can go one of two ways; either he’s back on track and ready to roll or that was his one goal for the next month and a half. Underrated man of the night on Saturday was Kasperi Kapanen, by the way, who took seven shots on goal against Carey Price (and is definitely worth more than a late first round pick, you cowards who offered him up for Jake Muzzin).
Chris Kreider has 24 goals. Mika Zibanejad has 22.
There are only three others players on the entire roster (!!!!) who have hit the double digits in the goals category this year. If there’s a better way to sum up this year’s Rangers, I’m not sure I can find it.
Tonight is likely the Garret Sparks show, especially with a 3-in-5 road trip through the Western Conference coming up in the next few days. Andersen stopped a whopping 35 shots through regulation and OT, so it would only make sense to turn to the backup.
Sparks has been exactly what the team has needed him to be this year, picking up a 7-3-1 record and one shutout to go with a perfectly reasonable .909 save percentage in all situations. Six of his 11 starts have been considered ‘quality starts’, and when he plays with control inside the blue paint the team usually goes home a winner; add in that two of those elite-stats-yielding performances have been since returning from a concussion and things look good. The biggest problem will be shutting down New York’s top line against him; while the Rangers have very little offense to speak of, the Chris Kreider line has been firing on all cylinders lately and play an aggressive offensive game. If Sparks tries to challenge too far out of his crease against Kreider or Zuccarello, the game could head downhill fast.
On the other end of the ice, the projected starter is a now-rested Henrik Lundqvist, who likely wants to get a full two points after a frustrating outcome against the Hurricanes two nights ago. Although he only allowed one goal in the team’s Stanley Cup anniversary Celebration, the Rangers still took home a 3-0 loss; against Toronto, he’ll be even more determined to set things straight.