Things certainly looked grim 25 minutes into this game, but four unanswered goals including a hat trick from our star, our moon and our sun, Phil Kessel, saw the Leafs get back into touch with their offensive side en route to 4-2 win over Anaheim. The Leafs will have earned some goodwill with their coach after snapping Carlye’s former team’s seven game winning streak.
1 – The first period featured a lot of commentary on the Sportsnet broadcast about a lack of shots from the Leafs. It also featured a derisive cheer from the crowd when Paul Ranger took a slap shot from the blueline with a few minutes left in the period. It was the team’s first shot since the first shift, as the Leafs went 17 minutes consecutive without a shot.
The shots problem in this period was less about a possessional problem for the Leafs. The Leafs allowed only six shots themselves and were not spending the huge spells in their own zone as we saw in previous periods. The top line had a few decent, but shotless, cycle shifts. The forwards were supporting better in terms of their back check and puck support. It wasn’t completely horrible; the Leafs just seemed a little tight and couldn’t complete an A to B pass at points, including a first period power play where no shots were generated and it felt like the Leafs couldn’t string a single pass together.
The Leafs made the costly mistake in a low-event first period when Franson and Bodie collided trying to get back, and Rielly didn’t play the 2 on 1 very well, failing to take away the pass. Through 20 minutes, the Ducks led 1-0 after a goal by Nick Bonino.
2 – The first few minutes of the 2nd period was horrendous from the Leafs, and unsurprisingly led to a goal against. Raymond was fighting the puck for much of the game, and fumbled a pass from Rielly, turning the puck over. Seconds later, Rielly got beat behind the net. A bunch of Leafs were caught sleeping, with Franson reacting late, as Perrault came out from behind the net. Perrault pivoted and roofed it on Bernier to make it 2-0 Ducks.
3 – The Leafs finally started to find their legs and get in behind the Anaheim defence around the 25 minute mark. A set of good shifts included a McClement chance in the slot and a 2 on 1 chance for Raymond that was denied by a Hiller pad save. Credit goes to Bodie and Orr for the perfect 4th line shift early in the second: A chip in, a good forecheck, and a penalty draw by Orr.
4 – The powerplay from the penalty on Orr did not lead to much, as the Leafs’ PP was without a shot in the first two opportunities. Things weren’t looking much better on the third opportunity, generated off a Corey Perry boarding call, before the first unit came over the boards and made something happen. Kessel sucked in a few PKers high in the zone, found Bozak in the slot, and following a scramble in front, JvR threw a great no look pass to the back post where Kessel had smartly positioned himself for his third of the season.
5 – The Leafs’ two best players at their respective positions, Kessel and Phaneuf, stepped up in this second period when the Leafs needed it most. After a great stick by Phaneuf to break up a play at the blueline, he followed the play up the ice. Bolland held the puck up for a period on the half boards, surveyed for a pass, and found a pinching Phaneuf in the slot, who scored the Leafs’ 2nd goal in 72 seconds. Just like that, it’s 2-2.
6 – The game took a turn in Anaheim’s favour thanks to a few penalty calls after the game was tied. A McClement hook, followed by a Getzlaf dive mistaken for a trip, put the Leafs in a lengthy 3 on 5 situation without their best penalty killer. With some luck and Anaheim bobbles, the Leafs grabbed the momentum with a huge kill on the part of Bozak, Gunnarsson and Phaneuf. Dion was a warrior on that PK after taking a puck to the padless spot at the top of the knee. What a period this was from Dion, starting with a big hit in the corner on Palmieri, leading into his goal, followed by some stellar work on the 5 on 3.
Last three Phaneuf games: Staal, Semin, Kane, Toews, Hossa, Perry, and Getzlaf have combined for one goal. Sign Dion ASAP.
— Chris (@ReimNier) October 23, 2013
7 – A few shifts after the kill, a good battle by Ranger, who was temporarily out there with Phaneuf, on the right board in the defensive zone forced a give away high in the zone. Kessel took off, held the puck on the 2 on 1, and fired a shot straight up, bar down, from in tight. Ridiculous shot.
Ranger’s decision making can be questionable and he takes bad angles some times, but he is a big, strong guy and handled Getzlaf well to start off that play.
8 – The game opened up in the third period as the Ducks ramped up the pressure trying to tie the game. I get pretty excited when games open up, knowing the Leafs are going to come out on the winning end of it more often than not. The Leafs, starting in the second period, were finding opportunities by capitalizing on mistakes off of aggressive plays by the Anaheim defence. This enabled the Leafs’ rush offense, which is what the Leafs do best.
Eight minutes into the final period, rookie defenceman Hampus Lindholm had pinched off the blueline and fell over, giving JvR the jump on a 2 on 1 with Kessel. JvR returned the favour on his 2 on 1 goal in the Ottawa game earlier in the season, setting up Phil for his hat trick after pulling it around Beauchemin and passing from his backhand. Peter Chiarelli was in the building, by the way (Thank you Boston). 4-2 Leafs.
After a relatively slow start in terms of goal production, Kessel is now at 5 goals in 10 games, and his dynamic duo with JvR is back intact after van Riemsdyk’s injury and a quiet game in Chicago.
9 – I thought Bernier was a little scrambly at points in the first 40, and if not for a bobble on the 5 on 3, and later a post, he would’ve been caught once or twice. He was great in the third period in helping close this win out for the Leafs. So too was the Leafs’ PK, which went 4 for 4 tonight – but we’ve almost come to expect that.
10 – This was a good win against the hottest team in the league coming into the game. The Leafs had a slow start, but managed to generate some offence off the rush and establish a bit more of a forechecking presence as the game wore on. It was the Leafs’ first game of the season with less than 30 shots allowed, conceding only 25 against a team that was generating over 37 a game coming into tonight. They were outshot by two, and score effects were at play in the third period. Maybe all Leafs fans can be happy with this win.
It’s been a story of highs and lows for this team in terms of the games within the games, with significant spells spent looking dreadful and getting totally outplayed, but the Leafs are now a very solid 7-3 through their first 10 and sit first place in the Atlantic Division. This despite injuries along the way to Kulemin, JvR, Fraser, and a suspension to Clarkson, which has now been fully served. Clarkson can now join the team in a more preferable situation – looking to complement a winning team with a good record rather than help lift the team out of a three-game losing slump.
|James van Riemsdyk||0||2||18:02||2||2||2||1||1||0||1||0||2|
|Jonathan Bernier (5-3-0)||W||25||23||0.92||59:56:00|
|Jonas Hiller (4-1-0)||L||23||19||0.826||57:15:00|