Leafs blow 2 goal lead, fall to 2-3.
Leafs blow 2 goal lead, fall to 2-3.
The first period was filled with everything we haven’t really seen so far this year; big saves from a goalie, timely goal scoring and gritty play. The game started with physicality setting the tempo. 3:59 into the game, Mike Brown dropped the gloves with Aaron Asham, and won decisively. When the puck was dropped on the next faceoff, it was Colton Orr’s time to shine as he and heavyweight Mike Rupp dropped the gloves. You would think that after seeing Orr dominate the likes of Derek Engelland and John Scott, fighters would be wary of dropping the mitts with Orr, but Rupp took him on and, like the others, was soundly defeated. A few minutes later it was Dion Phaneuf further setting the tone by rocking Rick Nash as he skated over the blue line. While the Leafs were playing with grit, they were being outshot 14-3. However, despite the shot disadvantage, the Leafs went to the dressing room with a 2-0 lead. The first goal was scored by Grabovski, his 3rd in his last 3 games. At 6:25, he was standing alone in front of the net where John Michael Liles found him wide open, and Grabby deked past Lundqvist for the goal. At 17:15, it was JvR’s turn to score his 3rd in his last 3 games. Parked in front of the net on the powerplay, Van Riemsdyk potted a rebound past a sprawling Lundqvist. Assists went to Grabovski and Liles. Not to be forgotten was the play of Reimer. He made some HUGE saves including a breakaway attempt by Rick Nash. He did a good job of fighting through traffic to see the puck, and for one period, it appears like the Leafs have found some solid goaltending.
The second period was much like the first, big hits and the Rangers carried the play. Unfortunately, unlike the first, the Leafs did not score and take advantage of their few chances. Macarthur had a rocket that hit the cross bar, and Kessel was once again stymied on a close chance, but for the rest, there really wasn’t much to brag about. That is, except for the play of James Reimer. Optimus Reim stood on his head, facing 11 shots, while the Leafs only mustered 6. He was beaten only once, and that was by Brad Richards, 5:43 into the period. Richards, left alone in the front of the net by the lack of backchecking (I’m looking at you here Kessel) Richards potted a loose puck to move the deficit to 1 goal. The Leafs should consider themselves lucky to move into the third period up a goal as they took a string of stupid penalties that, if not for Reimer, would have cost them. Interesting to note, Both Kostka and Phaneuf have played over 20 minutes already. Liles, Fraser, and Komisarek have yet to hit 10 minutes.
7:36 into the third period, our good friend Mr. Kulemin was caught up ice, creating a 4 on 3 rush, and a goal by Marc Staal, assists going to Del Zotto and Marian Gaborik. This was the second straight game that the Leafs have blown a 2 goal lead, and unfortunately the comeback came full circle as at the 12:57 mark, Marian Gaborik scored a tip in and put the Rangers ahead 3-2 with assists going to Staal and Richards. The Rangers scored two late goals to make it a 5-2 total, but while he gave up 4 goals, I still think Reimer had a great game and deserves a lot of credit for keeping the Leafs in it.
It’s safe to say that goaltending was the one area of the Leafs game tonight that we do not need to dissect. James Reimer was very good tonight and was only beaten on a couple of loose pucks and a tip in. Of his 37 saves, several were high calibre. He will definitely be in net Tuesday, against the Sabres after this impressive performance.
The Leafs did score a powerplay goal (JvR in the 1st), but their offense was completely non existent the entire night. They went 1 for 3 while the Rangers went 0 for 4 on their own powerplays. Altogether, the Leafs put up 17 shots, but against King Henrik that really isn’t good enough.
Nash was all over the ice tonight, proving to be that physical and offensive force I had predicted. Nash’s line, nicknamed the 22 million dollar line(yes that is how much that line makes combined) had a total of 8 points, 16 shots, and was +12. Pretty fair to say they earned their salaries tonight.
-Mike Kostka and Dion Phaneuf played over 30 minutes each, and while on the stat sheet it says they were -4, they both played remarkable games.
-The curse of the “A”. After losing Lupul earlier in the week, the teams other assistant captain, Macarthur, left the game with a lacerated pinkie and it remains to be seen how long he will be out for.
-The Leafs were outshot 17 to 42
-Leafs went 4 for 4 on the Penalty Kill
-This was the first game that Nazem Kadri did not register a point.
The Leafs next game is Tuesday against the Sabres