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Despite taking a first period lead, the Leafs fall to the Montreal Canadiens 2-3 in OT. Montreal was able to get a must needed win after losing four of their last 5. The Habs have now won 14 games against the Leafs and sweep the season series. As exciting as this game was (Matthews in the first and Matthews in the third), it was also frustrating (turnovers and Price). The Leafs now leave to take a trip down Death Valley to begin the California road trip in San Jose on Tuesday. Babcock said at the end of the game that Marner and Bozak may be able to get in next game. That is just the jolt to the line-up that the Leafs need (Marner…not so much Bozak).
Carey Price set some records after last night’s win. He is now the second goalie to get 11 cons starts against the Maple Leafs and 3rd in wins in Canadiens history with 259. It’s not surprising to see Price stand on his head. He’s had a complete turnaround after a slump before the bye week. With a .941 Sv%, Price may be getting back to, “you’re not getting more than 2 past me”, form. Connor Brown got completely robbed on the power play after a great between the legs feed from JVR. Although the Habs have finished the season series against the Leafs, it’s possible they meet them somewhere else. Price is inhuman when he’s on his game, but past has shown that he isn’t unbeatable.
Despite losing the game, the point obtained from OT have the Leafs at 69 on the season. In 61 games, they have tied their entire point total from last year. The improvement displayed by this team has been incredible. At the beginning of the season, most thought that the Leafs would hover around a playoff spot and thus be able to play meaningful games down the stretch. They’re playing meaningful games alright, but doing so in a playoff spot. It’s amazing what a number one centre, great goaltending, and elite wingers can do for you. Now they just have to worry about the defensive mistakes that have cost them games, including a couple in this one.
Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. The two Montreal goals, as good as they were in terms of their finish, were created due to a turnover and a lost puck battle. Zach Hyman, a usually responsible penalty killer, turns the puck over while defending a Montreal power play. A turnover in the neutral zone turns a potential clear, into a scoring opportunity. Pacioretty picks up the puck and sends it to Shaw who sends it to Galchenyuk. Galchenyuk passes it over to Pacioretty who turns the puck into one of the lasers that come off the sharks head in Auston Powers in Goldmember for the tying goal. Speaking of Galchenyuk, Kadri loses a battle to him down low leaving him alone in front of the net. A sweet feed from Nesterov has Galchenyuk send the puck Andersen’s glove for the game leading goal.
Speaking of Andersen, he had another solid game. It was a battle between him and Price when it was 1-1 and 2-2. However, the overtime goal. Going for the poke check is always a risky move. Remember Teemu Selanne’s 54th goal of his rookie season? Markov feeds a streaking Plekanec the puck who passes it over the Shaw. Andersen comes out from the net and tries to poke check the puck but Shaw misses it and gets the OT winner. It’s a rough way to end a great performance for Andersen, but full marks goes to Shaw who read the check and was able to react.
For the first time since the 2013-2014 season, the Leafs have a 30-goal scorer. Not only that, Auston Matthews becomes the first Leafs rookie to score 30 since Daniel Marois in 1989. It’s foreign territory in recent history for the team to have such superstar talent. The first goal was a couple of lucky bounces as Matthews shot is deflected off Emelin’s stick and then off Nesterov’s skate in front of the net. The second was very reminiscent of his goal in the league. Hyman does Hyman things, wins a puck battle, skates around the net and throws the puck in front of the net. Matthews tips it on home to tie the game. Leafs fans are witnessing history. It’s unfair to compare Matthews to former star centres for the Leafs, but the way he’s been playing, can you blame us?
What do you think?
Despite the result, were you happy with the game? After hitting 30 goals, is scoring 40 for Matthews out of the question? What can the Leafs do to beat the Habs if they meet in the playoffs? Let me know what you think down below.