Photo credit:Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Toronto blows 3-1 lead, Islanders defeat the Maple Leafs 4-3 in overtime
By Joseph Zita1 month ago
Coming off a dominant win against another California team – the San Jose Sharks this time – on Tuesday night, the Toronto Maple Leafs entered UBS Arena last night with a four-game winning streak as they took on the New York Islanders for the second meeting this season.
After coming off four impressive wins against the three California teams, Toronto had a different task on hand against the New York Islanders despite their recent struggles. The Maple Leafs seem to have trouble playing the Islanders in New York dating back to Tavares’ debut season with Toronto, and they continued that in last night’s game early on.
Alexander Romanov took down Auston Matthews seconds into the game, but it went uncalled. Seconds later, Matthews tripped Matt Martin, and the Islanders headed to the power play. It took them less than 10 seconds to capitalize on the man advantage as Martin Jones mistimed the shot and produced a juicy rebound with Kyle Palmieri at the doorstep. He banged home his 10th of the season for the early 1-0 lead just 40 seconds into the contest.
The Islanders carried the momentum of play after that opening goal, and they didn’t give Toronto much to work with. Fortunately, the Maple Leafs weathered the storm after allowing the Palmieri goal. The fourth line delivered for them just over the midway point of the period as they tied the game at one. Noah Gregor fed Bobby McMann the puck, and he one-timed his second of the season past Sorokin.
Roughly a minute after the tying goal, Matt Martin took a hooking penalty on Matthews, sending Toronto to their first power play of the night. Unfortunately, the Maple Leafs looked lost on the man advantage, unlike the Islanders on theirs, and they couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity, keeping the game tied 1-1.
Just like how the Palmieri goal went straight to the Islanders’ legs, the same could be said about the McMann goal. Toronto was getting outshot 9-5 midway through the period, and from the tying goal to the end of the period, the Maple Leafs outshot the Islanders 7-2, taking a 12-11 shot advantage and a 1-1 score into the first intermission.
After allowing an early goal to start the game, Toronto’s top line wanted to return the favour to begin the second period. The trio of Knies, Matthews, and Marner went to work in the offensive zone. Marner fed Matthews a pass between Pelech’s legs, and Matthews pulled off a nifty move in tight to get around Sorokin for the lead. That assist from Marner gave him point number 599, one shy from the 600 mark in his career.
However, one goal was not enough for the best goal-scorer in the league. Just over two minutes after taking a one-goal lead, Pontus Holmberg forced Noah Dobson into a turnover in his zone, and Matthews picked up the loose puck. He put the puck between his legs, attacked the net, and placed the puck underneath Sorokin’s pads for his second of the night and 33rd of the season to give his team the 3-1 lead early in the middle frame.
Despite two quick goals from Toronto and having the Islanders on their heels to start the period, the Maple Leafs second line was tired from a defensive zone shift, resulting in an Islanders goal. Bertuzzi broke his stick blocking a shot, Nylander was late on getting to Romanov, and the defender ripped his fourth of the season past Jones to cut the deficit to one.
It wasn’t the best shift for Toronto in their zone, and it led to a goal for New York, and it happened again for Toronto toward the end of the period. With the Islanders back on the power play for the third time in the game, Mark Giordano failed to clear the puck out of the zone, and that hurt his team. A Noah Dobson shot from the point deflected off Bo Horvat’s stick, tying the game up 3-3. Just like that, the two-goal lead Toronto once had was gone.
It was the opposite period from the first. New York controlled the first 10 minutes, Toronto weathered the storm, and they tied the game back up. In the second period, Toronto looked like the better team in the first 8-10 minutes, but after the Romanov goal to cut the deficit in half, it was all Islanders to end the period.
Toronto entered the second intermission tied 3-3 and tied in shots 26-26 with the New York Islanders.
After the Maple Leafs got out to an early two-goal lead at the start of the second period, the Islanders mounted their comeback, tied things up, and headed into the final period in a 3-3 hockey game. With 20 minutes left to go in regulation and the game all evened up, Toronto needed to play another smart, mistake-free period of hockey against a good team if they wanted to come away with the two points this time.
Well, credit to Toronto. They came to play in the third period as they looked for the go-ahead goal, outshooting New York 9-3 in the third, but Ilya Sorokin was up to the task and didn’t allow anything to get past him for the fourth time last night. Jones wasn’t challenged that much in the third, but when called upon, he did the same thing, keeping the game tied up.
With no goals to talk about in the final frame, the two teams headed to overtime.
For the second time this season, the Maple Leafs and Islanders went to overtime. And just like their first meeting, the Islanders scored less than one minute into overtime. In their last meeting, Bo Horvat scored 46 seconds in. Last night, Mathew Barzal scored just 21 seconds in to win the game.
Sheldon Keefe started Matthews, Marner, and McCabe for the three-on-three part of the game, and quickly backfired on him. McCabe iced the puck almost immediately, and after Matthews lost the defensive zone face-off, McCabe lost Barzal at the net and buried the winner.
Although their four-game winning streak ended last night, you can now say it’s a point streak. It stands at five games, with the team heading back to Toronto for two games against Colorado and Detroit.
Who stood out:
Auston Matthews. With two more goals last night, Matthews is up to 33 on the season and 332 in his career, tying him with Ron Ellis for the fourth most in Maple Leafs franchise history. Oh, and he’s only played in 519 career games. Video game numbers from him.
Although he couldn’t pick up a second assist, Mitch Marner registered a primary assist on Matthews’ first goal last night, giving him 599 career points, one shy from the 600 mark in his career. Once he hits that milestone, he will become the fastest Maple Leaf to reach that feature (currently at 546 games). Unfortunately for Mitch, Matthews will become the fastest Maple Leaf to hit that milestone when he hits it. He is sitting at 590 points in just 519 games.
You can catch the Toronto Maple Leafs’ next game Saturday night when they return home to open up the first half of a back-to-back against the Colorado Avalanche. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT.
(Stats from Hockey-Reference.com)
Recent articles from Joseph Zita