Woll makes 41 saves but Maple Leafs fall short to the Hurricanes 2-1

Photo credit:James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Zita
16 days ago
Joseph Woll didn’t dress as the backup goalie in Saturday night’s game against the Edmonton Oilers. The reason for that? He was on his way to Carolina for last night’s game against the Hurricanes, which marked the fifth start since returning from his high-ankle sprain sustained in early December.

First period:

Before the start of the game, Sheldon Keefe announced that Tyler Bertuzzi, Ilya Lyubushkin, and TJ Brodie were returning to the lineup. And for Brodie, his return to the ice didn’t go well. He slid back on a pairing with Jake McCabe, and it took Carolina 1:05 to break the ice after a no-look backhand pass from McCabe went nowhere. Brady Skjei ripped one from the blue line for his 12th of the season.
The Maple Leafs were awarded a power play four minutes after the Hurricanes opened the scoring but could not get a goal against one of the best penalty-killing teams in the league. Not being able to score, let alone generate any chances on the man advantage, hurt Toronto. Less than two minutes later, David Kampf was whistled for holding, sending the second-ranked power play over the boards, and not even 20 seconds into killing the penalty, Joel Edmundson covered the puck with his glove in the crease, giving Jake Guentzel a penalty shot.
Fortunately, Joseph Woll read the Hurricanes winger the entire way and stopped his attempt, keeping the game 1-0. The Maple Leafs then had to kill off the remaining minute and a half of the penalty with Kampf still in the box and successfully did so. The following shifts saw Toronto in the offensive zone trying to get things going after spending a chunk of the period defending in their zone. They got a couple of looks at Frederik Andersen but couldn’t solve the Danish netminder.
The penalty parade continued for Toronto when Pontus Holmberg was sent to the box for slashing after he hustled back into the defensive zone seconds after the puck was turned over in the neutral zone. Unlike their first penalty kill, Carolina found the back of the net after Sebastian Aho shot the puck off Jake McCabe’s leg and past Woll. It hadn’t been a pretty start on the road for Toronto, and these two penalties, a penalty shot, and two goals against proved that.
Carolina continued to generate more looks on Woll, but the 25-year-old settled down and turned the remaining chances in the first period away.
Brent Burns made his way to the penalty box with under a minute left after holding Tyler Bertuzzi on a partial breakaway, which gave the Maple Leafs their second-man advantage of the frame. With seconds left on the clock, John Tavares appeared to have his stick broken in half after a slash from Jacob Slavin. The whistle blew, which made everyone think Toronto was headed to a 5-on-3 power play. But the referees blew the whistle prematurely for no reason.
Toronto entered the first intermission down 2-0 and outshot 16-7.

Second period:

Toronto couldn’t get on the board on their power play that carried over into the second period. It was a better power play than the first attempt early in the first frame, but former Maple Leaf Frederik Andersen wasn’t making things easy for his former team, and that trend continued in this period. In two minutes, Toronto easily could’ve had four goals, but Andersen was standing on his head. Auston Matthews and Max Domi got sprung on a 2-on-1, and as the Hurricanes’ defender took away Matthews from the play, Domi, with a clear shooting lane, elected to force the pass and turned it over.
It wasn’t the right play from Domi, but quickly after that missed opportunity, the chances kept coming for Toronto. Matthews had two brilliant chances on Andersen, but he robbed his old buddy twice, keeping Toronto off the scoreboard. Carolina easily could’ve had four or five goals in the first period, and it’s safe to say Toronto easily could’ve had four or five goals in the middle period.
After an underwhelming first 20 minutes, it was evident the Maple Leafs looked like the better team through the first 10-12 minutes of the following 20 minutes. But after Nick Robertson took an offensive zone high sticking penalty, sending Carolina to their third power play, the home team started to get their feet again, generating a couple of great looks on Woll, but couldn’t score. Similarly to Burns’ penalty to close out the first, Andrei Svechnikov took a tripping penalty to give the Maple Leafs a power play with 49 seconds remaining. And on their third power play, Andersen did what he had been doing in the first 40 minutes, robbing every Maple Leaf that shot the puck on him.
Toronto entered the second intermission down 2-0 and outshot 31-20.

Third period:

Less than 24 hours before the Maple Leafs entered the third period down two goals, it was the Oilers who were down five goals, searching for their first goal of the game against Toronto. The Oilers scored three unanswered to make it intriguing but ultimately fell short.
The difference this time around was Toronto was up against one of the best defensive teams in the league, and Andersen was playing fantastic, as was Joseph Woll. However, the difference on the scoreboard was a turnover that led to a goal and then a power play tally of McCabe’s leg. The Maple Leafs had power play opportunities, but the 2nd-ranked penalty kill made it hard for them to get pucks to Andersen, and when they did get pucks to Andersen, he was there to make a spectacular save.
Through 40 + minutes, Toronto was inching closer and closer to having their 200+ game streak of not being shutout end. But following a turnover from Carolina in their zone, Toronto pounced on the puck and finally beat Andersen. Matthews collected the puck in the high slot and fed Nick Robertson for a one-timer, and the 22-year-old netted his 10th goal of the season, giving the Maple Leafs nine players with at least ten goals this season.
After finding an answer for all the saves the former Maple Leafs goalie made, Toronto had roughly 11 minutes to tally another goal. In their last meeting, it was Carolina who scored two late goals in the third to erase a 4-2 deficit, thanks to two Aho goals – one on the power play and one 6-on-5 with the goalie pulled.
Before Robertson got his team on the board, Toronto was getting outshot 7-1. They proceeded to outshoot Carolina 12-5 for the remainder of the period, desperately searching for the tying goal. The chances were there, but so was Andersen, making it an extremely challenging task for the road team to tie things up.
Fortunately, with 3:15 left on the clock, Burns took his second penalty of the game, this time for tripping, sending Toronto to their fourth man advantage of the game. As the Hurricanes did in the last meeting, the Maple Leafs needed to have the same script and send this game to overtime. But the penalty kill was too much for Toronto, and despite a solid push, they fell short in a narrow 2-1 loss.

Who stood out:

Without Joseph Woll, who knows what the score would’ve been? He allowed two goals in the first period – one that bounced off his defenseman’s leg – but shut the door for the rest of the game, including a penalty shot opportunity from Guentzel. The Hurricanes, as did the Maple Leafs, had some great looks. But as I mentioned above plenty of times, both goalies played great. It was truthfully a goaltending battle that went Carolina’s way last night.
Yesterday was the fifth game for Woll since returning to the crease from his injury going 2-3-0 with a .899 SV%. In his two wins, he’s allowed five goals (two vs. Arizona and three vs. Washington). In his three losses, he’s allowed 11 goals (four vs. Boston twice and two last night against Carolina).
It was another step in the right direction for Timothy Liljegren last night alongside his partner Joel Edmundson. They haven’t been perfect since being paired up, but they have certainly gotten more comfortable with each other, and the last two games have been evidence.
According to Moneypuck.com, the pairing generated an xGF% of 88.3%, the highest of any pairing on Toronto that played more than 1:00. With those two on the ice, they outscored Carolina 1-0, won the shot attempt battle 11-7, and outshot the opposition 6-3.
One of the better forwards on the Maple Leafs last night was Auston Matthews. He didn’t score, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. He registered seven shots on 12 shot attempts, coming close a couple of times, and picked up an assist on their lone goal from Robertson, extending his point streak to four games (three goals and seven assists). He also led the team last night with an xGF of 0.572.
You can catch the Toronto Maple Leafs’ next game on Tuesday night when they return home for a quick two-game homestand, beginning with the New Jersey Devils. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 pm ET/4:30 pm PT.
(Stats from hockey-reference.com)

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