Leafs Postgame: Road Trippin’ Down the QEW, Leafs @ Sabres

Tonight the Leafs were down the Queen Elizabeth Way in Buffalo, NY to take on the Sabres. The game was their 60th of the season, as we enter the third third of the season and well into the playoff hunt.

Here are some of my thoughts from this game.

Thanks for nothing, Zebras

The referees certainly had their hand in affecting tonight’s contest. Somehow the Sabres played a perfectly clean game, while the Leafs were guilty of 4 minor penalties. I’m not advocating for the refs intentionally evening things out, however, there were some obvious infractions committed by Buffalo that went uncalled. Here are just a couple examples:

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There were also some calls against the Leafs that, while I know I have blue goggles on, looked suspicious to me such as this one that allowed the Sabres to go ahead in the 3rd period… more on that later.

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I would be being unfair if I didn’t also note that the referees did help the Leafs by not calling this near-goal against early in the game, which was later unable to be overturned by the situation room to keep the game 0-0.

A Collapse of Epic Proportions

The aformentioned powerplay given to the Sabres was the straw that broke the camel’s back, as Toronto allowed 3 straight goals to seal the deal for Buffalo in the middle of the 3rd period. Here are those goals as they were scored, in succession:

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With a breakaway against and two incredibly skilled plays, it’s not easy to point at an exact flaw that caused the collapse. Fatigue is the simplest explanation, with the Sabres having last played Thursday night compared to the Leafs playing last night in Ottawa.

One in One for the Egg Man

A brief moment of positivity did deliver itself to us in this one. Egor Korshkov, drafted by Toronto in the 2nd round of the 2016 NHL entry draft, made his NHL debut for us in light of Andreas Johnsson’s injury and possibly an illness keeping out Timashov and Gauthier. Alternatively, the Leafs were just looking to try something new to see what they have in certain players, as they called up Mason Marchment again for his 4th game of his career and this season.

Korshkov, or Eggy as I’m taking to calling him for no particular reason, got his first NHL goal on this great pass from Jason Spezza, showing his elite shooting talent early in his career.

Points Keep On Slippin, Slippin, Slippin…

With the Panthers losing earlier in the day, this was a prime opportunity against a weak opponent to gain some ground in the standings. The Leafs chose instead to keep my blood pressure elevated by letting these two relatively easy points slip away.

After tonight’s loss, they are only 4 points ahead of the Panthers, who have an extra game left to play. The team is talented enough to hold on, but then again, they’re also talented enough to beat the Sabres by a healthy margin. Nothing is guaranteed and this loss hurts their chances unnecessarily.