Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Another blown lead results in fourth straight loss as Maple Leafs fall 4-2 to the Oilers
By Joseph Zita1 month ago
It was a very underwhelming last three games for the Toronto Maple Leafs, which saw them blow leads in all three, two in which they held a multi-goal lead. With a three-game losing streak attached to them, Toronto headed out on the road to take on some of the league’s hottest teams, and last night’s challenge began with the Edmonton Oilers.
You couldn’t have asked for a better start to a road game against a team that rode a 10-game winning streak entering last night. Just 27 seconds into the game, the first line of Holmberg, Matthews, and Marner went to work on the forecheck and retrieved the puck. Matthews picked up the loose puck, dropped it to Marner up high, and bolted to the left side of the ice. Marner waited for Matthews to get into position, fed him a perfect pass, and Matthews ripped his 34th of the season past Stuart Skinner for the early 1-0 lead.
With an early lead for the road team, Toronto’s third line hopped over the boards after a quick shift from the second line and almost extended their lead to two. A great passing play between Max Domi, Calle Jarnkrok, and Tyler Bertuzzi almost made the entire Oilers group out there on the ice look foolish, but Bertuzzi hit the post, coming close to his seventh of the season.
After getting out to an early 5-0 shot advantage and a 1-0 lead, the Edmonton Oilers finally woke up after a handful of minutes and started to look dangerous. They strung together a couple of offensive zone shifts in a row, testing Toronto’s defence and Martin Jones, but they were up to the task. Somehow, Keefe had his fourth line out there on the ice with McDavid’s line, and it went as predicted. They got hemmed in their zone for a while and even took a penalty, sending the Oilers to the man advantage.
Luckily, the penalty kill kept the puck out of the net despite Edmonton’s massive push at the midway point of the frame, and the Maple Leafs found their feet again as both teams finished the period trading scoring chances.
Toronto entered the first intermission up 1-0 and outshot 12-7. According to Naturalstattrick.com, the Edmonton Oilers had a 6-4 advantage in high-danger chances at five-on-five and generated a 1.45 xGF compared to the Maple Leafs’ 0.74.
After a couple of missed calls on Edmonton in the opening 20 minutes, Toronto received their first power play of the game 1:20 into the second period. Unfortunately, despite registering five shots on Skinner, they couldn’t find the back of the net as they tried to extend their lead. It was a similar period to the previous one, as both teams continued to trade scoring chance after scoring chance. It was unbelievable that it was a 1-0 game more than 30 minutes into the contest. But soon after the midway point of the middle frame, Toronto’s top line went to work on the forecheck again, resulting in a solid shift and a goal from Morgan Rielly.
A simple dump-in from Marner allowed his line to retrieve the puck, get set up, and score, extending their lead to 2-0 with Rielly’s seventh of the season.
Up 2-0 on the road against a good team, Toronto was in for a tough challenge based on their previous three games. Almost immediately after Toronto’s second goal, former Maple Leaf Zach Hyman scored a nifty goal to get his team within one, but it was challenged for offside, wiping the goal off the board. Edmonton went back to work after the puck dropped, and they were hungry, looking for a goal for their home crowd. They pushed and pushed, but Martin Jones was there with every answer. But that was until an innocent backhander from Leon Draisaitl was thrown toward the net, beating Jones and cutting Toronto’s lead in half with roughly four and a half minutes to go in the period.
Toronto entered the second intermission up 2-1 and got outshot 24-21. Edmonton won the high-danger battle again this period (6-5).
With a narrow one-goal lead entering the final period of regulation, Toronto needed to put together a clean 20 minutes of hockey to avoid the same mistakes they committed in their previous three games against the Islanders, Avalanche, and Red Wings. Well, they’re the Toronto Maple Leafs, of course, they made things difficult for their fans in the third period.
Although they held a 2-0 lead in this game, that got thrown out the window just over two minutes into the period. A defensive breakdown in the Toronto zone allowed Derek Ryan to get all alone in front of the Maple Leafs’ net, and he beat Jones for his fourth of the season, tying the game at two. The replay was not kind to TJ Brodie. He let Ryan walk right in unmarked, and the rest is history. They tried to get another puck past Skinner, but the netminder made incredible saves in this one, keeping the game close.
It wasn’t until roughly three minutes left in regulation that someone scored and that someone was not wearing a Maple Leafs jersey. With 3:05 remaining, Ryan McLeod circled the Toronto net and fired the puck past a screened Jones for his eighth of the season, giving the Oilers the late lead. It was another Edmonton goal that wasn’t too kind to Toronto defensemen on the replay, as Morgan Rielly and Simon Benoit were defending the same side of the ice for whatever reason.
With the goalie pulled and Toronto trying to tie things up, Evan Bouchard sent the puck the distance down the ice, and it slowly crossed the goal line for his 11th of the season, icing the game with a 4-2 Toronto loss.
Who stood out:
Who stood out? It was another game where players on the Maple Leafs looked ok at best. They had moments in this game where they looked dangerous but didn’t dominate like they were supposed to for a team entering last night’s losers of three in a row.
Auston Matthews scored last night, giving him 34 on the season and 333 in his career, which is good enough to leapfrog Ron Ellis for fourth place on the franchise’s all-time goals list. He is just 33 goals away from passing Dave Keon for third place, which is a possibility before the end of the season.
You can catch the Toronto Maple Leafs’ next game Thursday night when they continue their four-game road trip into Calgary to take on the Flames. Puck drop is scheduled for 9:00 pm ET/6:00 pm PT.
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