The game in Boston was a fun wild ride, this one was nothing like that. It was fast paced but I don’t think any Leafs fan at any point felt comfortable. It was like a perfect reflection of the Leafs season.
Both teams are energized but again it seems like the opponent is just a bit more ready than the Leafs. Off the hop. Andersen looked a bit shaky and a blown defensive coverage early on led to Strome walking in alone taking a sho, getting his own rebound and converting on it. Once again, Leafs are down first but they good thing is, that goal has woken them up. A strong shift by Nylander and co has led to a great chance almost reminiscent of the 2 on 1 from Boston. Sadly this time, no goal. The shear speed of this game is insane. I’m getting winded just watching. Several back and forth chances with 5 mins of continual play. Tavares gives Matthews the puck but Griess answers the call. The teams are just trading chances and you can almost feel a goal is coming. Just like that, Soshnikov skates in and rifles one from the blue line and we got a tie game. Islanders are pressing hard and Andersen has to be strong on a sneaky shot from Boychuk. The Leafs break out and near 4 on 1 leads to a beautiful give and go between Auston Matthews and Morgan Rielly. And just like that it’s 2-1 Leafs. The pace has been amazing exactly what you want from two teams chasing a playoffs spot. This game has just become back and forth. Strome has a good shift, Matthews has a good shift, Tavares has a good shift, Marner has a good shift. A lot of pressure by the Islander’s 4th line leads to a shot on Andersen. Andersen makes the initial save but after a lot of scrambling, Kulemin beats Gardiner to the puck and we are tied 2-2. As they head into the second, Marner has a beautiful wraparound but no goal.
Islanders start a bit more aggressive, Andersen makes an incredible save on a 2-on-1 by Prince. Marner moves the puck so smoothly, it’s almost a treat to watch. No goal on the play but still, a thing of beauty. Blown coverage + Tasty rebound = sure goa—Andersen makes the save! Wow, that should have gone in. Next play, Hyman sets up Brown in all alone but just can’t convert. Fans are gonna need a neck brace after this one, constantly moving side to side. Bozak launches a cross ice pass, tape to tape to Marner and Marner converts, 3-2. Unreal pass, go watch it. Again, series of back and forths, with an amazing attempt by Marner but the leads to the Islanders setting up a shooting gallery on Andersen. Thanks to our good friend Mr. Post, we are saved. Rielly takes down Tavares and the Leafs are off to the Penalty Kill. The Islanders can’t really set up, the puck springs loose and Hyman walks in and goes short side and scores a shorty. Third shorthanded goal by Hyman, the arena is silent. The Islanders keep pressuring trying to find life and Brock Nelson scores on a play masterminded by Strome, 4-3. Next play Matthews hits one off the post so hard my ears are still ringing. Matthews draws a call on Nick Leddy, a weird call to be honest. Strong plays set up by both powerplay lines but no goals and that takes us to the end of the second.
The Leafs started off really controlling the play, clearly trying to whittle down the clock. Just smart plays and both teams are no longer flying as they were in the first two. Soshnikov has the first real chance in all alone but this leads to a scary couple of plays from the Islanders’ top line. As the Islanders continue to put on the pressure Mr. Post makes another appearance denying Calvin de Haan. The play cools off and again we go back to constant back and forth between the two teams. Not much to note in the 3rd until a goofy shot leads to Andersen knocking it down on to Tavares stick who passes it to Bailey and we’re tied up. After a strong shift by Marner, Tavares puts on a heck of a show but the Leafs are all over him. The Islanders won’t stop going hard on the net. Babcock gets Kadri, Matthews and Nylander on the ice and magic happens. With Carrick keeping the play in the Islanders’ end, Kadri gets the puck to Matthews who feeds an open an Nylander and the Leafs take the lead. As the Leafs are still celebrating Andersen absolutely robs Tavares up close. Tavares literally couldn’t put muscle Andersen’s glove. 99% of the time Tavares scores that but not tonight. With 1:44 left the aisles pull their goalie, a clean set up plays leads to…a goal where a lonely Ladd just taps it in. How is no one covering him?! How? 5-5. Andersen has now given up 18 goals in 4 games. Not good. With 30 seconds left in the game, Brown makes a block that at least guarantees the Leafs a point. We’re off to overtime in what should of been a down deal of a game.
Tavares comes in hot but can’t seem to find Leddy or make a play, the Leafs counter with a 3 on 1 but no dice. The Islanders just hemmed the Leafs in their zone. A couple of good looks by Matthews but it’s back with Leddy. Leddy just flies into the Leafs end but can’t score. The Isles are absolutely dominating the Leafs in overtime. A blown recovery by JVR leads to Nelson skating in and stealing a point from the Leafs. Isles win what should have been a Leafs win.
The cracks aren’t just starting to show, they centre stage. The Leafs can’t finish out a game, they have tossed away points like no one’s business and it’s clear our defense isn’t showing up. This is a tough loss.
NY Islanders Goal 1:23 R. Strome (8) assisted by B. Nelson and J. Boychuk
Toronto Goal 13:27 N. Soshnikov (4) assisted by N. Zaitsev and M. Rielly
Toronto Goal 14:51 A. Matthews (24) assisted by M. Rielly
NY Islanders Goal 18:13 N. Kulemin (9) assisted by C. Cizikas and S. Prince
Toronto Goal 5:12 M. Marner (14) assisted by T. Bozak and M. Hunwick
Toronto Goal 9:34 Z. Hyman (8) (short-handed) assisted by N. Zaitsev
NY Islanders Goal 13:48 B. Nelson (12) assisted by R. Strome and A. Lee
NY Islanders Goal 13:30 J. Bailey (11) assisted by A. Lee and D. Seidenberg
Toronto Goal 17:59 W. Nylander (14) assisted by C. Carrick and N. Kadri
NY Islanders Goal 18:31 A. Ladd (12) assisted by J. Bailey and N. Leddy
NY Islanders Goal 2:42 B. Nelson (13) assisted by J. Bailey and C. de Haan
SHOTS ON GOAL
MIKE BABCOCK POST GAME
MAPLE LEAFS GAME IN SIX