After many exciting games between the two (with most of them falling in the Leafs favour thankfully), the Leafs and Oilers concluded their nine game season series tonight. It lived up to the expectations of McDavid vs. Matthews, as there were chances galore at both ends of the ice. The Oilers opened the scoring with a Josh Archibald goal, but the Leafs followed with goals from Marner and Matthews in quick succession to make it 2-1 in the first. It would be scoreless for the second before Kyle Turris would score early in the third as the puck deflected off his knee and in the net to tie it. The game would once again find it’s way to overtime, but unfortunately the Leafs weren’t on the right side of it tonight, as Darnell Nurse would score the overtime winner and give the Oilers the win.
It sucked to see it end that way, but the Leafs played well and still got a point.
3rd Star: Auston Matthews
If there’s one positive we can take away from this game, it’s that Auston Matthews is officially back, or his wrist is. While it wasn’t his best night as far as play driving goes, he was on the right side of the scoring chances when he was on the ice, and he also had a goal that looked like the kind of goal we’re used to Matthews scoring. I’m excited to see what he brings to the table in the upcoming series against Winnipeg.
2nd Star: Mitch Marner
Marner loves those Next Gen Games. In the four games the Leafs have played since starting this tradition, he has scored 6 goals and has 13 points. He’s everyone’s favourite grown child, and he shines on the day for the kids. He also had the second best 5v5 xGF% on the team after Zach Hyman, so like his linemates, they generated a lot of chances tonight.
1st Star: The Muzzin-Holl pair
I couldn’t decide on one, but I think they deserved a special shoutout tonight. They were the best pair for the Leafs tonight as far as both shot attempts and expected goals are concerned, and they did this while mostly facing the McDavid-Draisaitl line tonight, seeing roughly 60% of the shot attempt share and 70% of the expected goals against them. That’s going to be a very important pair for the Leafs in a four to seven game playoff series against the league’s best players.
40th Star: Michael Hutchinson
Look, we weren’t expecting much from him, especially considering he already used up most of his luck against the Oilers earlier this season, but in a game where the Leafs played like they did, it’s pretty obvious that the difference between a win and a loss was Hutch being in net as opposed to Andersen or Campbell. Played well considering it was Hutch, but he was still the biggest difference maker for the Leafs losing.
They had a bit of a dip in the second, but they otherwise controlled the play, and a lot of it was in front of the net right where you want it to be. It’s hard to get mad at losses like this when they play like they should have won anyways.
The Leafs three game winning streak may be over, but they’ll look to start another one as they begin a four game road trip out West. That trip starts with a two game series in Winnipeg. It’ll be a big series for first place, as the Jets sit just two points behind the Leafs right now with a game in hand (although the Jets are playing the Flames as I finish this so that’s subject to change). Regardless, it’s not one the Leafs can afford to walk away with out at least a win. The first game will be this Wednesday at 7:30pm, and you can find the game on Sportsnet.