The game saw both sides came out with a good pace but New York was getting the better looks by far.
Early on Pirri and Nash both got really good chances but Andersen was on top of it. Stepan managed to strip the puck off Matthews and hand it off to a streaking Nash who attempts to dangle and slip the puck past Andersen but no dice. Gardiner gets a the best look of the first half for the Leafs but the Rangers have set up a shooting gallery. Andersen is standing tall while the Leafs are doing anything but. Even when Lindberg mows over Andersen, no one really does anything. The shot clock at 11 mins in the first stood at 11-3 for the Rangers. That should indicate how hard a night Andersen is happening. Finally the Leafs offer Andersen some relief when Gardiner blasts one on nets which Bozak redirects into the Ranger’s Holden which slides to an open Brown who taps it in on goal to put the Leafs up 1-0. The Leafs would go on the power play but nothing would come of it. The Leafs would head into the second with a 1-0 lead, but the scoreboard isn’t tell the story of the game.
Leafs have started more on aggressive than they did in the first. The Leafs pelted a couple of shots Lundqvist ways but again it would New York’s shots on Andersen that were the better of chances. Andersen is made saves and cleared rebounds, all with such ease. JVR had a quality chance with a spin-a-roonie from far out, only to ring off the outside of the post. The Rangers had a great chance with McDonagh really testing Andersen but he passes with flying colours. Immediately after that, Nylander and Matthews work in sync to create a great effort but Lundqvist flashes his glove. While changing on the play Fast and Lindberg drive in hard on Andersen but Andersen makes an unreal save. Goat has a singular effort where he really works his way in passes over to an empty Soshnikov who can’t handle the puck. This is why the Goat is better than Ben Smith.The pace of the second period had viewers winded. Both teams traded shots but Lundqvist and Andersen were just putting on a display. Things got really scary for the Leafs when Zibanejad and Zuccarello set up shop in the Leafs in and just kept throwing everything on net. As uncomfortable as it was Andersen controlled the play and put an end to the sequence.
The 4th line has really been strong defensive but the Goat on a play where he was driving the net would plow into Lundqvist who dramatically falls to the ice. Goaltender interference which is a weak call. The Leafs put forward a strong defensive penalty kill and the best chance during those two minutes was by Connor Brown. Almost as soon as soon as the Penalty ends Kadri skates on in tries to be Handsome Hank but Lundqvist is sharp. The next strong showing by Andersen was off a defensive draw where Andersen makes a save off his mask. The Rangers would hem the Leafs in their end with Nash putting an especially strong effort but Andersen continued to be a brick wall. It is worth noting that the Leafs have so far blocked 20 shots on Andersen with 4 of those by newly acquired Marchenko.
The period would end with the Miller tripping Brown and putting the Leafs on the power play. Early on the PP, Grabner continues to be a strong penalty killer, steals the puck from Bozak and goes in but Andersen again. Heading into the third the Leafs and Rangers can thank their goalie for the score being as low as it is.
The Leafs start the period on their heel. They couldn’t enter the zone but just as they do, Nash trips Nylander and the Leafs get another power play just as the original is a second away from expiring. As Miller works his way out of the box the Rangers get a 3-on-1 but can’t connect. The Leafs struggle at entering the zone and throughout the power play the Rangers on the penalty kill get the best looks.You really can tell Marner’s presence is missed. The bulk of the first half of the period would see the Leafs stuck in their zone and the Rangers doing all they can to tie it up. The Leafs would make the odd appearance, usually when Matthews’ line is on but it is a Rangers shooting fest, as Zuccarello walks in Zaitsev dives to get a stick on the puck preventing a goal but getting tripping call on the play. The power play took a bit of time to get set up in the Leafs end but in the last 30 seconds a Pirri’s shot off the boards would bounce from behind Andersen and to Hayes who would ring a shot off Andersen’s leg that rebounds to the open side where Nash and Miller are both open. Miller pushes the puck into the empty side.
The goal brought the Leafs back to life. Shortly after, Bozak would make a strong play shoot but the Rangers block and the game remains tied. Hunwick would also have a good shot on nets which gets tipped by Nylander but Lundqvist reminds us all why he’s one of the best. If the recap hasn’t be clear enough, the goaltending tonight has been remarkable, a pure clinic. In the dying 3 minutes an impressive wraparound by JVR would be turned away. This was followed by an incredible one timer by Rielly from Nylander that would beat Lundqvist but find the post.
The game would go off to OT.
OT would start with the Rangers driving to the Leafs net. Nash’s line takes several good chances but can’t capitalize. Komarov and the leafs would try to answer but again nothing generated. With the Rangers attack Gardiner coughs up the puck but which leads to a juicy chance but correcting his mistake was Gardiner to block an open chance and keep the game alive.
In the last minute of play, the Leafs would get three great chances and the Rangers one to end OT. Komarov would get a stretch pass go in alone and put on a nice dangle but can’t get the puck between Lundqvist’s leg. While trying to clear the zone, Rielly steals puck and skates in with Hyman on a 2 on 1 and Hyman just tips the puck wide. Matthews would skate through the Rangers, get in alone and do his best to put the Leafs ahead, but on a night where goals are coming at a premium, Lundqvist keeps the Rangers alive. On the other end of the ice, Nash would get the puck and break free from Nylander with some incredibly stick handing but inevitably get blocked by Andersen. This might have been some of the most exciting 3-on-3 hockey since the North America/Sweden OT at the World Cup of Hockey.
Nylander tries to deke Lundqvist but somehow Lundqvist stretches just enough to get a pad on it — No Goal
Zuccrello skates in wide, cuts in close and tucks it in — Goal.
Matthews skates in with a lot of speed and rifles it in quickly on Lundqvist — Goal.
Zibanejad goes in wide works his way in and scores — Goal
Kadri skates in carefully and can’t seem to get the footing which makes for an easy save for Lundqvist — No Goal
That’s the game. This is game was a remarkable display of goaltending and that OT alone was worth every second. Although the Leafs would go on to lose, this is why the Leafs have been such a joy to watch this season. High intensity and just a great game that had everyone on the edge of their seats.
Toronto Goal 10:56 — C. Brown (15) assisted by T. Bozak and J. Gardiner
NY Rangers Goal 10:50 — J. Miller (19) assisted by K. Hayes and B. Pirri
No Goal — William Nylander
Goal — Mats Zuccarello
Goal — Auston Matthews
Goal — Mika Zibanejad
No Goal — Nazem Kadri
SHOTS ON GOAL
MIKE BABCOCK POST GAME SCRUM