Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Maple Leafs come up big in the shootout to defeat the Flames 5-4
By Joseph Zita3 months ago
After dropping their most recent game to the Ottawa Senators in embarrassing fashion, the Toronto Maple Leafs had to quickly turn the page to their next two games left on their five-game homestand against the Calgary Flames and the Vancouver Canucks.
With a record of 6-5-2 and sitting in the last wild-card spot, the Maple Leafs have yet to find consistency in their game. Heading into last night’s contest against the Flames, Toronto had lost five of their previous six games, which included a bunch of goals against and questionable special teams play. However, on Hockey Hall of Fame weekend, Toronto had the chance to get back in the win column before heading to Sweden.
The game started well for the Maple Leafs, and they took advantage of an early power play that was handed to them. Just three minutes into the first period, who else but William Nylander to open the scoring and extend his point streak to begin the season?
What looked like a turnover waiting to happen in the neutral zone, Matthews found a way to keep possession of the puck and find Nylander heading into the offensive zone. Once Nylander gained the blue line, it was over for the Flames’ defence. He pulled off a gorgeous move around Andersson and beat Vladar for his eighth of the season.
Unfortunately, similar to their previous games, the Maple Leafs would allow the next goal in the hockey games, and it was another soft goal allowed. Connor Zary shot the puck low, Woll kicked out a juicy rebound, and Zary put home his rebound on a weird-looking goal.
Not to panic, Toronto’s third line hopped over the boards and went to work. The new look line of Robertson, Domi, and Jarnkrok have looked great together over the past two games heading into last night, and they showed it again on this shift.
Robertson to Domi to Jarnkrok to the back of the net, as Toronto regained their lead after allowing Calgary to tie things up a minute prior.
Toronto looked by far the better team through the first eight minutes of the first period, but after that, the Flames looked better and slowly started to find their feet after a slow start. They were awarded two power plays in the period but couldn’t find the scoresheet. Toronto headed into the first intermission with a narrow 2-1 lead.
Up by one goal and getting outplayed in the second half of the first period, the Maple Leafs needed to come out for the second period with the same urgency as they did to begin the game, and that’s what they did. Calgary was still on their abbreviated power play from the previous period, but it was Toronto scoring, not Calgary.
Rasmus Andersson tried to break the puck out so his team could work their way into Toronto’s zone and set things up. However, I guess he waited a little too long, and as soon as he went to break the puck out to Hanifin near the benches, Nylander closed out on Hanifin and stripped the puck off him. He took the puck the other way on a two-on-one and sniped his second of the night past Vladar to put Toronto up by two.
With two goals in his back pocket and his point streak extended, William Nylander decided to continue his dominance and set John Tavares up with a gorgeous assist. As the puck worked its way behind the Flames’ net, Nylander went to collect it, with former teammate Kadri closing the gap. However, it didn’t matter. Nylander absorbed a big hit from Kadri and still managed to get the pass off, and Tavares buried his sixth of the season to give Toronto the 4-1 lead.
It was impressive to watch Toronto score these goals and not instantly allow a goal against them like in previous games. They scored three consecutive goals and continued to trade chances with Calgary. However, once they went up 4-1 on the scoreboard, the Flames would score twice to get back within one. Nikita Zadorov and AJ Greer scored Calgary’s two goals seven minutes apart to get their team back in it. Toronto headed into the second intermission with a one-goal lead.
That one-goal lead to start the third period didn’t last long, as Calgary tied things up just three and a half minutes in with a goal from Martin Pospisil. Toronto has officially choked a 4-1 lead, and you all knew it was coming. Despite Toronto looking like the better team throughout the bulk of the game, they found ways to shoot themselves in the foot and gift Calgary goals.
After a very eventful first two periods, the third period gave us just one goal in the entirety of the 20 minutes, and that was Pospisil’s tying goal. Toronto played a terrific third period, minus the goal against at the beginning of the frame. They outshot Calgary 11-3 and held the Flames to just one shot after they tied the game at four.
However, Dan Vladar was up to the difficult task of stopping these Toronto chances and helped force overtime, as both teams headed for some extra hockey.
It was absurd that this game was headed to overtime. Toronto looked like the better team and deserved to win in regulation. However, here we are, and we were headed to another overtime period with this hockey team.
At least both teams gave us a remarkable period of three-on-three hockey. If we’re talking about who deserved to win the overtime period, you can argue a good case for both teams. Woll and Vladar stepped up huge for their teams, stole the show in the extra period, and sent this game to the beloved shootout…
The first two shooters for either team, Nylander and Huberdeau, did not score. The second round presented Matthews, who didn’t score, and Sharangovich, who did to give his team the 1-0 lead. Mitch Marner was Toronto’s third shooter and needed to score to extend the shootout. Although it probably wasn’t drawn up like that, he found a way to put the puck past Vladar to keep his team alive.
Connor Zary, who scored Calgary’s first goal of the night, was stopped by Woll, and we were headed to the fourth round. Robertson and Kadri were the shooters in the fourth round, but both goalies turned aside both chances, and we were going to the fifth round.
Sheldon Keefe sent Domi out for the fifth round, and he made no mistake, roofing one past Vladar to give the lead to Toronto.
Dube, needing to score to extend the shootout, was stopped by Woll, and Toronto came out victorious in the shootout to defeat the Calgary Flames 5-4.
Who stood out:
If you read my pregame article, I wrote that the new-look lines would continue to have my attention in this game, and we were treated to another goal brought to you by the third line of Robertson, Domi and Jarnkrok. That is now three straight games with a goal from that line and four total goals from the members on that line.
William Nylander extended his point streak to 14 games to open the season with two goals and a beautiful assist on Tavares’ goal. A three-point effort from Nylander has him sitting at 21 points in 14 games, which is good enough for fourth in the NHL’s scoring race. Sooner or later, Brad Treliving has to pay the man.
Morgan Rielly, who grabbed an assist on Tavares’ goal in the second period, climbed the ranks in Maple Leafs history. His assist last night was the 350th of his career, which surpassed Tim Horton for 3rd on the franchise’s all-time assist list for defensemen and 8th among all skaters in franchise history.
You can catch the Toronto Maple Leafs’ next game tonight on Sportsnet as they close out their five-game homestand against the Vancouver Canucks. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT.
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