Going into Monday night’s game, it wasn’t quite panic time in Leafs nation, but pulse rates were certainly quickened following the injury to defenseman Morgan Rielly last week, a brutal 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers, and stealing defeat from the jaws of victory on Saturday against the Ottawa Senators to lose 3-2 in a shootout despite holding a 2-1 lead inside the last 75 seconds of the game. So although it wasn’t a must win game against the Calgary on Monday, it was the type of game a good team, a playoff team, needs to win. Make no mistake about it, that’s exactly what this year’s Toronto Maple Leafs team aspires to be, and win they did, with a 4-0 drubbing of a Calgary team who pretty much seemed to be disheartened after Mitch Marner deflected a Nikita Zaitsev point shot late in the 1st period to make the score 1-0. Marner’s 11th goal of the year broke the tie in a game that had been back and forth to that point, with action at both ends, and came moments after a James Van Riemsdyk wraparound attempt ended up getting stuck under the pad of Flames goalie Brian Elliott. Video review was required to determine that the puck had, in fact, stayed out of the net in that instance, and the 1st period ended 1-0 Leafs.
It would stay that way until 7 minutes into the 2nd period, when Nazem Kadri took what I dubbed as a double diving unicorn pass, as a diving Auston Matthews sent the puck up the ice, to a diving William Nylander, who played the puck onto Kadri’s stick, and number 43 made no mistake as he buried it over Elliott’s shoulder for his 100th career goal to give the Leafs a 2-0 lead. It was at this point where the action got a bit chippy with the Leafs killing a penalty to Nikita Zaitsev for firing the puck over the glass, Leo Komarov absolutely laid out Johnny Gaudreau with a hit that, although violent, was deemed clean by the majority of analysts covering the game. Mark Giordano vehemently disagreed with this assessment of the situation and stepped up to fight Komarov, although he promptly lost his balance and fell down, so both players were only assessed 2 minute penalties for roughing. Later in the 2nd, while Toronto was killing off a hooking penalty to William Nylander that was a questionable call at best, Zach Hyman and Komarov came in on their nightly short handed 2 on 1, with Hyman scoring to make it 3-0 Leafs. That would be the score as the 2nd period came to a close.
The Leafs came out for the 3rd period 20 minutes away from a valuable 2 points in the standings, but there was obviously the concern that there is every night, would they fall into a defensive shell that would lead to Calgary getting back into the game, or would they keep the pressure on a reeling Flames team. It didn’t take long to find out as the Leafs came out buzzing, and Alex Chiasson soon took a penalty trying to even the score with Komarov for his earlier hit on Gaudreau. The Leafs took full advantage of the powerplay as Nazem Kadri potted a feed from Mitch Marner for his 20th goal of the year. The assist from Marner gave him the Leafs’ team lead in scoring, as well as the NHL rookie scoring lead. That would be all the Leafs would need as they held on for a terrific 4-0 win, with Frederik Andersen turning in a spectacular performance for his 2nd shutout of the year. The Leafs are back in action Wednesday night in Detroit looking to build on their 1 point cushion over Boston for 3rd in the Atlantic Division.
By The Numbers
Goals By Period
Shots By Period
Skaters At A Glance