Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Maple Leafs force their third consecutive overtime after a late goal from Auston Matthews
By Joseph Zita2 months ago
After dropping two consecutive games following their trip to Sweden, the Toronto Maple Leafs returned home to begin a three-game homestand. With two wins in their back pocket, the Maple Leafs wrapped up their homestand against the Boston Bruins last night with a 4-3 overtime loss.
This was an important game for both teams, as they’re both in a tough division separated by a couple of points. The game started with both clubs playing conservatively and not giving up much through the first five minutes. It looked like they weren’t trying to cheat for offence to start the game, and the first couple of shots didn’t come until five minutes in for Toronto.
The Maple Leafs controlled a lot of the play through the first half of the period, which included a power play, but couldn’t generate anything. However, since Toronto looked like the better team up to that point, it made sense that Boston would open the scoring first. David Pastrnak entered the Maple Leafs’ zone and wristed one top-shelf past Joseph Woll. It looked like it may have deflected off Rielly’s stick. Nonetheless, it was 1-0 Boston roughly 10 minutes into the game.
Once Pastrnak got his team on the board, it was a much more even game for the remainder of the first period. Toronto couldn’t find the equalizer despite registering ten shots on Ullmark, as they entered the first intermission down 1-0.
It was a solid first period from the home team, yet they saw themselves behind in the game after a David Pastrnak snipe beat Woll at the midway point of the first period. Toronto just needed to continue to do what they did in the first. They out-shot the Bruins and controlled the majority of the play. It was only a matter of time until they beat Ullmark.
Unfortunately, David Pastrnak did Pastrnak things to give his team the 2-0 lead. William Nylander tried to deke in the neutral zone but got picked off. The Bruins went the other way to attack the Maple Leafs’ zone, and Pastrnak fed Kevin Shattenkirk a beauty of a pass, and he didn’t miss from in tight.
Down 2-0, yet looking like the better team overall, Toronto needed an ugly goal to get themselves on the board. With roughly six minutes left in the second period, there was a small scramble by the Bruins’ net. Matthew Knies shot it on the net, Nylander shot it toward the open goal but was blocked by the defender, and a wide-open Auston Matthews was present to pot home his 15th of the season to snap his mini-goal drought.
Toronto kept their foot on the gas and pushed for the tying goal before heading into the second intermission but couldn’t solve Ullmark.
Toronto was in familiar territory heading into the third period. They were involved in yet another one-goal game and needed a third-period comeback to walk away with the two points. Their first two games on this three-game homestand went to the shootout, where they came away with two wins, but with the recent outcry that they can’t win games in regulation if they were going to win this one against Boston, it would feel great if it didn’t have to come past regulation.
Through 40 minutes, I thought Toronto looked like the better team, but that means nothing if you’re losing because the only thing that matters is what the scoreboard says. And in the third period, the scoreboard said 2-1 Boston, so everyone knew Toronto was going to make their third-period push to try and even up this game at two.
Just two minutes into the period, the Maple Leafs forced the puck to the point where Kevin Shattenkirk turned it over. The puck spat out to Calle Jarnkrok, who fed a speedy Nick Robertson up the ice. Robertson placed the puck in open ice toward the net for a streaking Max Domi, and he collected the puck on his forehand, brought it to the backhand, and roofed it over Ullmark for his first goal as a Maple Leaf.
With Max finally scoring his first as a Maple Leaf, he brought Scotiabank Arena to its feet as he tied the game at two early in the third period. With an early goal to tie the game at two and your home arena bumping, Toronto felt the momentum and continued to pour on the chances as they looked for the go-ahead goal. However, Linus Ullmark did his job very well, and Toronto couldn’t find the goal to get ahead. Instead, Boston got to three goals first, as Trent Frederic put his team in front with roughly seven minutes to go in the game.
It was a sloppy, sloppy shift altogether. Conor Timmins whiffed on a point shot and had to scramble back to try and collect the puck in the neutral zone. Simon Benoit was forced to dump the puck in the Bruins’ end, and once Boston collected the puck and went the other way, Joseph Woll had a massive blunder. He thought he caught the puck, but instead, it was there for the taking, and Frederic banged it home.
Tying the game early in the third to follow it up by allowing a goal in the second half of the third period was deflating, and Scotiabank Arena felt that. But there was a graphic that popped up on Sportsnet’s broadcast, and it said Toronto has the most comeback wins this season, so there was some optimism they would tie this thing back up and try and win it beyond regulation again.
Well, ask, and you shall receive. With under five seconds left and the goalie pulled, Auston Matthews blasted his 16th of the season – and second of the night – past Ullmark to tie the game up at three and force overtime.
Toronto headed to overtime for the third consecutive game and the seventh time in their last 11 games. It has frankly been a struggle for them to win games in regulation as of late.
If you’re a fan of three-on-three overtime, this game was for you. There were a combined 16 shots in just five minutes (11-5 for Boston), which included some scoring chances that I thought were going in. Both goalies were stellar when called upon, but it wasn’t until the final handful of seconds that Brad Marchand would score the overtime winner after a blown tire and turnover from William Nylander in the neutral zone.
Toronto drops their final game on their homestand 4-3 to Boston in the shootout and fall to 12-6-4 on the season.
Who stood out:
As many know now, Matthews scored two goals – his 15th and 16th of the season – to break his mini-goal drought. William Nylander added another assist last night to restart a point streak after his 17-game point streak ended a couple of games ago, and Marner and Tavares picked up an assist on Matthews’ game-tying goal late in the third period.
Toronto’s best players last night were their best players, and that’s all you can ask for. However, losing a close one to a divisional rival always sucks, especially when you were one shot away from winning it.
You can catch the Toronto Maple Leafs’ next game Thursday night on TSN4 against the Ottawa Senators. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT.
Recent articles from Joseph Zita