The 1st period of this game wasn’t exactly what you’d call high event hockey. The Canes had several chances, and Curtis McElhinney was equal to the task as the Leafs came out a little flat for portions of the frame. The Leafs best chance came on an abbreviated power play, created when Zach Hyman drew a penalty just seconds into a Carolina man advantage. Nikita Soshnikov, coming out of the penalty box, took the puck and rang a shot off the crossbar. This was another poorly officiated game as the Leafs ended the 1st period still down a man from a phantom tripping call on Roman Polak.
The Leafs managed to kill off the penalty as McElhinney continued to stand tall in net for them. Then shortly after a Carolina flurry where the Leafs netminder kept the door closed, Tyler Bozak started the puck up the ice to JvR, who played the disc into the slot for Connor Brown to redirect into the net to make it 1-0 Leafs. Minutes later after a failed Leafs power play drawn by Auston Matthews, the Leafs number 1 overall pick cut to the net and was taken down to draw another penalty. Matthews, however, had other ideas and he channelled his inner Bobby Orr and slipped the puck past Canes goaltender Cam Ward as he tumbled to the ice. The period would end with the Leafs up 2-0, although Carolina certainly had their chances. One flurry in particular resulted in 3 spectacular saves from McElhinney as well as what looked at first glance to be the puck getting past him and hitting a force field which kept it out of the net. As it turns out it hit the well placed stick of Nazem Kadri and skittered harmlessly away.
Contrary to many games where the Leafs have had a lead going into the 3rd period, the did not sit back and defend this one. They stepped up and took the play to the Canes, eventually leading to a Jake Gardiner scoring on a seeing eye shot from the point which Cam Ward evidently didn’t see with his eyes as it beat him short side for a brutal goal, giving the Leafs a 3-0 lead. It was then that they decided to start showing highlights of the earlier portion of the game where Connor Brown scored that beautiful redirection goal. What’s that, it wasn’t a replay? He did that again? The exact same thing? Brown scored another absolutely gorgeous goal on another feed from JvR, with that line certainly making up for it’s rough evening last night. It was 4-0 Leafs at that point, which is how it would end, despite William Nylander scoring later in the period after Ward was either pulled, or pulled himself. Eddie Lack came in to play goal for the Canes and was crashed into by Zach Hyman, who then crashed into the net, then Nylander shot the puck into the open net, where it was deemed to be no goal due to goaltender interference. The only reason this particular play is noteworthy is due to Hyman’s hilarious attempt to pull the puck back into the net with his hand, as if no one would see it. The Leafs would hang on for a 4-0 win and at least temporarily move into 3rd place in the Atlantic division. They’re in action next on Tuesday as they meet the Winnipeg Jets at Air Canada Center.
Toronto Goal 1:07 C. Brown (13) assisted by J. van Riemsdyk and T. Bozak
Toronto Goal 9:53 A. Matthews (28) assisted by J. Gardiner
Toronto Goal 6:10 J. Gardiner (8) assisted by N. Kadri and L. Komarov
Toronto Goal 8:09 C. Brown (14) assisted by J. van Riemsdyk and J. Gardiner
SHOTS ON GOAL
MIKE BABCOCK POST GAME
MAPLE LEAFS GAME IN SIX