Photo credit:Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports
Knee Jerk Reaction: Pierre Engvall caps off Islanders’ season sweep of Maple Leafs
By Alex Hobson21 days ago
If you were to write up a script for your average Toronto Maple Leafs-New York Islanders game, the Leafs’ 3-2 loss probably could have transcribed it word for word.
The Islanders, no matter how good or bad they are, will always be one thing – annoying. They will always be getting in the way of shots, using their sticks to interrupt passing lanes, and taking every measure to suffocate you in every way imaginable on the forecheck. It’s a style and culture that the team adopted long ago, and not one they’ll abandon anytime soon.
Outside of the Islanders’ suffocating style of play, the Leafs played a decent game. They outshot their opponent and did a relatively good job shutting down the Islanders outside of a couple of flukey plays leading to the goals. Ilya Samsonov lost his crease on the first goal, which wasn’t helped much by an unfortunate bounce off the post, and an unfortunate bounce led to a breakaway out of the box for Kyle MacLean’s first NHL goal to give them the 2-1 lead. The “let the other team’s rookie score their first NHL goal on you” tactic has been a staple in Leafs lore for a long time now.
Of course, this all brings us to the grand finale – a Pierre Engvall game-winning goal with just over two minutes left on the clock. Would you believe me if I told you it was his first in 13 games?
There were some positives to take away from the game. Simon Benoit continued to win the hearts of fans, with a massive shot block and a couple of big hits complemented by a fight to feed the blue-collar poriton of the fanbase. John Tavares was arguably their best player, scoring his second goal in as many games and bringing a level of energy that hasn’t been seen in a couple of weeks. And, like I said, if we’re going to stack this loss up alongside every other loss this year, I’m not putting this one among the worst of the season from an effort standpoint. Even Samsonov, despite maybe having a goal or two he’d want back, stood tall and made some crucial stop to keep them in the game.
But in the end, it seemed as though the Leafs were getting humbled by the hockey gods for all of the good vibes they had going into the break. Between Tavares busting his slump and Ryan Reaves having his best game of the season across a pair of wins over the league-leading Winnipeg Jets, things went far too right for them in those two games. Leafs fans can have their highs, but the lows will always be around the corner, ready to pounce.
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