Maple Leafs drop the final game of their road trip 3-2 in overtime to the Predators
Photo credit:Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
By Joseph Zita1 month ago
The end of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ season-long five-game road trip wrapped up in Nashville last night as Toronto entered Bridgestone Arena looking to extend their winning streak to four games. They had a great showing against a pretty talented Dallas Stars team on Thursday night, and they were looking at Ilya Samsonov to get things going in the other direction against another Central division opponent to follow up Joseph Woll’s performance two days ago.
The Maple Leafs started the game how they started against the Stars on Thursday night. On time and working the puck in the offensive zone. They outshot the Predators 6-2 through the first 10 minutes of the first period, but Juuse Saros was there to deny every chance Toronto had, including a breakaway from Nylander.
Toronto was awarded a power play after Matthews nearly scored on a breakaway, as Filip Forsberg went to the box for slashing. And, you guessed it, the top power-play unit continued to be hot as William Nylander blasted his 6th of the season past Saros and extended his point streak to eight games to begin the season.
However, they could barely celebrate their opening goal as TJ Brodie took a roughing penalty. It was a bit of a questionable call, seeing as the referee chose to take him out of the scrum and not the Preds player who cross-checked Rielly three times. Nashville capitalized on their man advantage as Ryan O’Reilly snuck one under Samsonov’s pads to tie the game 1-1. Simply a goal he needs to have.
Both teams would trade some chances as the end of the period was nearing, but both goalies turned aside everything they saw. Toronto headed into the first intermission outshooting Nashville 12-6, yet tied on the scoreboard, a pretty solid road period for them. They had a couple of breakaways, hit a post, and had a couple of shots go wide. They looked pretty good for almost the entirety of the period.
The Maple Leafs did well at continuing the pressure to start the second period against the Predators as they looked to retake the lead after allowing O’Reilly to knot it up at one before the intermission. Juuse Saros was doing Juuse Saros things and made a ton of saves to begin the frame, but a solid shift from Toronto’s third line finally buried one past him as Mark Giordano snuck down low and banged home his first of the season to retake the lead, 2-1.
However, just like when they went up 1-0, they allowed Nashville to get right back into the game by giving them a power-play. And because, of course, O’Reilly redirected his second of the game past Samsonov to tie this game back up at two.
Nashville was awarded a power play because Calle Jarnkrok was whistled for tripping. He likely wouldn’t have been called for tripping if Mitch Marner didn’t turn the puck over in his zone for the second consecutive shift. By doing that, it extended Nashville’s zone time, and it ultimately benefited the Predators and bit the Maple Leafs in the butt.
Both teams headed into the second intermission the same way they ended the first period and began the game. Tied.
After starting the first two periods with pressure in the Predators’ zone, the Maple Leafs came out for the third period by taking a sloppy too-many-men penalty, and they put Nashville’s power play back to work for the fourth time. Luckily, the penalty-killers did a better job and killed it off, but starting the period with that type of penalty is not ideal for a team looking to take the lead.
Toronto would continue to have their chances, but Saros was there to save them all. Even when the Maple Leafs were given a power play with a chance to go up 3-2, the Predators shut them down.
In true Maple Leafs fashion, they took their second too-many-men penalty in the third period with the game tied, and I can imagine what Sheldon Keefe was thinking at the time of this bench minor. It’s inexcusable to take two in one period, especially in a game where you’re tied with your opponent.
With the penalty killers out and trying to kill off their fifth penalty of the night, Auston Matthews was sprung on a two-on-one and drew a penalty as Tyson Barrie was called for tripping. Both teams headed to four-on-four hockey for less than a minute before Toronto would get about a minute and a half of power play time.
Neither team scored on the four-on-four, and Toronto didn’t score on their abbreviated power play, as both teams remained even through 15 minutes of the third period. There would be chances exchanged in the last five minutes, but neither team could find the back of the net for the late game-winner, and we were headed to overtime tied, 2-2.
With the game going to overtime, Toronto would secure at least a point, making it four out of five games where they’ve picked up a point on this road trip. However, they had bigger things on their mind, and that was to get the extra point and go home.
Sheldon Keefe elected to go with Kampf and Marner to begin the overtime period, and it didn’t go as planned for them. Nashville would keep possession of the puck for basically the entire time outside of 20 seconds, and when Toronto had the puck for that limited time, Matthews turned it over, allowing Roman Josi to beat Samsonov for his first of the season to hand the Maple Leafs a 3-2 loss, dropping Toronto’s record to 5-2-1.
It’s frustrating that they lost this game: a game where they easily could’ve won with how many chances they had and the sloppy giveaways Nashville had in their zone, but grabbing a point in the last game of a five-game road trip is good. A road trip where you went 3-1-1, taking seven out of the possible 10 points, is a solid job for the standings.
Who stood out:
Outside of the first goal for Nashville, I thought Ilya Samsonov had a much better showing last night than some of his other starts, and I’m sure everyone else can probably agree to that. He saved 21 of 24 shots for an .875 SV%. In his previous starts this season, he put up save percentages of .792, .875, .913, and .250 (granted, on four shots).
I talked about Nylander and Tavares in the pregame and how I’d have my eyes on those two because of how elite they have been to start the year. Well, Nylander scored again, extending his point streak to eight games to begin the season, and although Tavares didn’t grab an assist on his goal, his stick-handling around some Preds players allowed that play to happen, and who knows if that puck would find its way to Willy if Tavares didn’t do that.
I also thought the defence played a pretty good game. Timothy Liljegren went down with an injury and never returned, so the blue line had to play shorthanded for the second consecutive game on the road, and given the circumstances, I feel like they handled it pretty well.
They held Nashville to just 24 shots, eight high-danger chances (five coming in the second period) and limiting them to a 2.19 xGF, according to NaturalStatTrick.com.
For the final game of a five-game road trip and the players probably wanting to go home, I thought they played a solid game on both ends of the ice. Outside of some sloppy giveaways at times, careless penalties and that first Predators goal, they did a good job.
You can catch the Toronto Maple Leafs’ next game on TSN4 Tuesday night at home against the Los Angeles Kings. Puck drop is scheduled for 8:00 pm ET/5:00 pm PT.
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