Game in 10: Game #25, Pens 6 vs. Leafs 5 (SO)

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Photo: Getty Images via NHL.com

The stuff of cardiac arrests. Please keep the 4-1 jokes to yourself. What a crazy game of momentum swings and refereeing-fuelled rage.

1 – The Leafs were making a mess in their defensive zone coverage on the first few shifts, coughing up an early lead when Chris Connor jumped on a pass wide open on the back door, and nearly conceded another one before they found their way into the game.

The powerplay Peter Holland drew was a saviour for that reason. It seemed to settle the Leafs in when this game could’ve easily gotten away on them, with their confidence fragile and the team under siege early. A Dion Phaneuf point shot on the powerplay (dedicated to Jeff O’Neil), perfectly placed for JvR tip home, was pivotal as a response early in this game.

2 – The Leafs’ lines 1 through 4 were able to generate a strong cycle shift or two in the first. Sure is handy being able to roll four lines while applying pressure and keeping the foot on the pedal, even if it was temporary.

It was also refreshing to see some point shots directed at the net by the Leafs. Any one else notice that second chance opportunity develop for Kessel, at 5 on 5 no less, with 8 minutes to go when Phaneuf just threw a puck at the net and there was a fortuitous bounce to the right side of the net? In general, the Leafs were directing more shots at the goal, with 10 shots on the period – an improvement for this team.

3 – The Leafs took the first of several leads with nine minutes to go in the first. To his credit, Mark Fraser laid down a good shot block to spark the transition. In a bizarre occurrence, the Penguins didn’t have enough players on the ice for an extended period in a error I haven’t seen since atom hockey. Kadri took off the other way, and with Olli Maata scrambling off the bench, he buried far side on Fleury who didn’t even drop into the butterfly.

4 – A dream start to the 2nd period saw Fleury and Letang fumble a pass behind the net for JvR to jump on and jam into the net.

Letang looked like he was playing a spot of shinny the very next shift as Bozak tossed him off the puck and found Kessel for a rocket of a one timer wide open in front. Bang bang, it’s 4-1 and the Leafs looked on the verge of a rout as they chased Marc Andre Fleury into a hissy fit in the tunnel.

5 – A hooking penalty by Gunnar gave the Pens their opportunity to find their way back into this game. Giving the likes of Letang, Crosby and Malkin PP opportunities is the one thing the Leafs needed to avoid to keep this game safe. Always tough when the refs are looking for game management calls in these situations. In any event, Malkin rocketed one home from the circle.

A few minutes later, with Peter Holland in the box for something or rather, the Pens got a bounce off Dion Phaneuf’s stick. When it rains, it pours for the PK; that’s poor puck luck. Holland was more or less stapled to the bench after that minor penalty and only played four and half minutes tonight.

6 – The game turned into a full-on track meet of traded chances as the second progressed, something that continued in the third period despite the close score. The Pens were pinching with reckless abandon and playing balls-out aggressive. This meant some chances the other way for the Leafs. Toronto left Zack Zatkoff untested for much of the 2nd despite him handling just about every shot poorly. Finally, Kessel threw a puck at the net which the Pen replacement goalie kicked out. Kudos to Bozak on crashing the net and going to the right spot on the back post. 5-3 Leafs, and yet another scoreline that should’ve been enough.

7 – Completely garbage call on Smithson for taking a man into the boards in the early third. Another game management call against the Leafs was followed up by a stupid JvR loose-arm holding penalty – that he deserved – to put the Penguins on a 5 on 3. The one thing the Leafs couldn’t do was take dumb penalties outside the defensive zone, but some of those calls…. Wow. After a lost draw, Bozak lost his stick, putting the Leafs down to 2.5 men against Malkin, Kunitz, Neal and Crosby. The end result was predictable.

8 – The Leafs generated no shots on goal on their one PP of the period (there were a couple of big blocks). They were not coping with firehose level of pressure by the Pens and looked shell shocked, but the biggest refereeing crime this evening came on the 5-5 tying goal. Bernier had no chance to make the save after getting pitchforked into the net by Evgeni Malkin. One of those goals where you just shake your head; nothing you can do when the rules aren’t called as they’re designed.

9 – For the Leafs part, they got brutally outshot (17-1) in the third period even by Leaf standards. I’m not going to talk about the no-shot record the Leafs set tonight because they actually threw a puck on the net that the shot keepers missed. CHANGES EVERYTHING. They weren’t testing a weak goaltender because they couldn’t when they spent all period under siege and botching breakouts. What do you make of a game like this from the defensive standpoint? It was a nightmare for both teams. For the Leafs, the third period was some of the worst hockey they’ve played this season.

10 – Some curious tandems out there at 4 on 4 in OT. Carlyle seemed to be just holding on for dear life awaiting the shootout. The Leafs are a threatening 4 on 4 team, but Carlyle was likely scared shitless by his team’s play in the third. McClement – Kulemin for several minutes isn’t going to win you the game at 4 on 4.

Bozak was stopped, Clarkson pulled the same move he always pulls, and Bernier got schooled by Malkin and Crosby (understandable) in the shootout. The Pens win, but the Leafs grabbed the loser point.

Well, I guess it’s good that the Leafs bumped some scoring slumps at the individual (JvR, Kessel, Kadri) and team levels. 4 goals at evens is a relief on one hand. There was some things to like about the Leafs’ first and second periods, but the team’s third period was embarrassing. Refereeing helped ensure this game didn’t go quietly into the night, but the Leafs’ play was on its way to ensuring this game was far from shut down anyway; brutal breakout attempts against the Penguin pressure prevented the Leafs from ever finding their way back into the game at 5-5.

The optimistic take: A point on the road against a good team is a point on the road against a good team.

Shots-Penguins

Scoring Summary   
1ST PERIOD
1:57:00PITChris Conner (1) Wrist shot - ASST: Andrew Ebbett (1), Brandon Sutter (6)1 - 0 PIT
5:09:00TOR PPG - James van Riemsdyk (10) Tip-in - ASST: Dion Phaneuf (8), Cody Franson (13)1 - 1 Tie
11:41:00TORNazem Kadri (7) Snap shot - ASST: Mark Fraser (1)2 - 1 TOR
2ND PERIOD
0:13:00TORJames van Riemsdyk (11) Wrist shot - ASST: NONE3 - 1 TOR
0:42:00TORPhil Kessel (13) Snap shot - ASST: Tyler Bozak (4)4 - 1 TOR
8:27:00PIT PPG - Evgeni Malkin (5) Slapshot - ASST: Kris Letang (2), Sidney Crosby (19)4 - 2 TOR
15:20:00PIT PPG - Kris Letang (5) Tip-in - ASST: James Neal (7), Chris Kunitz (12)4 - 3 TOR
19:55:00TORTyler Bozak (4) Wrist shot - ASST: James van Riemsdyk (8)5 - 3 TOR
3RD PERIOD
3:46:00PIT PPG - James Neal (7) Snap shot - ASST: Evgeni Malkin (24), Kris Letang (3)5 - 4 TOR
7:41:00PITEvgeni Malkin (6) Wrist shot - ASST: Sidney Crosby (20), Chris Kunitz (13)5 - 5 Tie
NO.PLAYERPOSGAP+/-PIMSHITSBKSGVATKAFO%PPTOISHTOITOI
2M. FraserD0111006500-0:00:002:32:0017:59:00
3D. PhaneufD0112214201-2:39:003:18:0025:46:00
4C. FransonD0111023410-2:19:000:00:0019:01:00
11J. McClementC000-101220071%0:00:003:55:0018:43:00
12M. RaymondL0000001200-1:20:000:36:0016:59:00
15P. RangerD000-1020100-0:00:002:22:0021:52:00
21J. van RiemsdykL2133253200100%2:37:000:49:0022:20:00
22J. SmithsonC000020300040%0:00:000:53:0010:07:00
23T. SmithC0000002000-0:00:000:00:003:29:00
24P. HollandC000-122010033%0:00:000:00:004:55:00
28C. OrrR0000004000-0:00:000:00:003:39:00
36C. GunnarssonD0001202100-1:07:003:08:0024:44:00
41N. KuleminL000-2012000-0:00:002:47:0016:41:00
42T. BozakC112301100146%2:12:001:39:0024:37:00
43N. KadriC101021200022%1:45:000:13:0019:08:00
44M. RiellyD0000001200-1:49:000:00:0021:20:00
71D. ClarksonR0001023100-1:37:000:00:0017:34:00
81P. KesselC1013060011-2:20:000:00:0022:47:00
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS GOALTENDERS
NO.PLAYERSAVESSV%PIMTOI
34J. Reimer0 - 0000:00:00
45J. Bernier43 - 480.896065:00:00
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Goaltending
75 %
Even Strength
45 %
Special Teams
35 %
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Alec Brownscombe is the founder of MapleLeafsHotStove.com, where he has written daily about the Leafs since September of 2008. He was also the editor of the 2009-12 Maple Leafs Annuals. You can contact him at [email protected]
  • peterbleafs

    No comments where the hell are you guys?  Leafs just do not know how to win…without the goalies we would be at the bottom of the league.  I am starting to aim my blame on the coaching staff….something is badly wrong with the systems these clowns are playing.

  • peterbleafs

    Yes Carlyle….you are going to have to start being the focus of the problem.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    peterbleafs The Game Day thread, perhaps. lol.

  • DJBrianBurke

    I said it in the last thread, but another game with a head shot to the Leafs with no call. I don’t understand it. We get treated to the nice Phanuef penalty (that made it a 5 on 3) on a clean hit against Columbus and Kadri gets a 5 and a game against Minny. 
    NHL do your job, protect the players, even if they wear the blue and white.

  • VCF

    If we could get Braydon Schenn for Gardiner would that help?

  • Alec Brownscombe

    VCF Another winger that doesn’t strength us at C or D? No.

  • question time

    Alec Brownscombe VCF  some are saying we need a mean shutdown defenseman. where do we find that guy.

  • DJBrianBurke

    @question time Alec Brownscombe VCF Too bad Schenn didn’t work out.

  • VCF

    @question time Alec Brownscombe VCF What about this Gleason deal?

  • DJBrianBurke

    deleaf VCF 2 comments. Thanks for coming out.

  • question time

    VCF Alec Brownscombe  MSM said gleason might go somewhere but not the leafs. Plus i think he sucks or he wouldn’t spend so much time on the bench

  • wendelsfist

    is there a link for the carlyle interview?

  • loomx

    I still quite can’t believe the last 2 games happened. Just a complete trainwreck.

  • gjdevlin

    I don’t agree with the entire write up. The Leafs started regressing in the 2nd period and continued their downward spiral until the closing goal.
    I just don’t think that Randy is the right coach for the Leafs. They spent too much time on the defense that they are just unable to create any offense. The Leafs got two quick goals becuase the Pens made two mistakes – you can’t sit around and wait for mistakes.
    The shot count is bugging me and it is finally catching up with us.
    Look at Howard Berger’s latest blog – he’s pointing fingers at the coach. You can cry for trades all you want – it will not help. 
    I just don’t like the way the Leafs are being coached.
    The only trade I would make is send Gardiner to the Oilers for Dallas Eakins.

  • wendelsfist

    deleaf wendelsfist I want to hear how he explains this fiasco of the third and OT period

  • question time

    gjdevlin isn’t it true that the shot count was low when he coached the Ducks? How did that work out? Don’t say SC cause we don’t have the players

  • zakimak

    wendelsfist deleaf he can’t…you could feel the vacuum of any calming influence fro, the bench. That reminded me of game 7 of last year.

  • juliesucks

    You just know Miller is lights out on Friday

  • deedrag

    OMG! I just realized the worst part of this? Wait for it? the Habs are tied with us for 4th.

  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    Man, I’m having flashbacks to The Gong Show with that big hook that used to come out now and again.

  • deedrag

    I need a drink.

  • Not Norm

    Nice summary Alec. Except not nearly enough BLAME. You need to shout a bit more. Someone. Must. Die.
    Apparently.
    Meanwhile, I just had fun with this one. Nonsense bounces, bizarre refereeing, pond hockey. We got a point. That’s fine.
    Next!

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Not Norm Thanks. I admire your attitude. Wish I was there with you.

  • T_Ry

    Not Norm That’s probably the healthiest attitude to have.

  • deedrag

    Not Norm It did seem like a bad shinny game didn’t it?

  • JR from Halifax

    While  this team has serious problems, I still think the reffing has been a joke all fucking year

  • Alec Brownscombe

    JR from Halifax Both can be true, and boy were both true tonight.

  • Cloud09

    JR from Halifax We bitch about the reffing every year. This is a personnel and coaching issue.

  • JR from Halifax

    Its nights like tonight where I actually “get” how people can lose their mind and kill a referee in soccer

  • T_Ry

    I trust tomorrow will bring a bag skate…and possibly all the players wearing shock collars, so every time they try a toe-drag at the blueline or a soft pass that ends up on the other team’s tape, they get a good zap.

  • JR from Halifax

    Cloud09 JR from Halifax I do not disagree with you, this team has not shown an ability to play a 60 minute game for years, never takes advantage of “weaker” teams and can’t close the deal. All this despite many personnel changes. Culturally something is really fucking wrong

  • Cloud09

    If the Leafs keep playing like this it wouldn’t surprise me if they ended up 9th or 10th at the end of the season. You can’t keep getting blown out on the shot clock and expect to win games. Carlyle has to get this team under control and start playing some hockey instead of the sorry excuse we got to watch at the end of this game. If he can’t get it turned around I would seriously be looking at a change at the position.

  • Not Norm

    Alec Brownscombe Not Norm In 45 years of Leaf hockey, I’ve seen about 8,000 worse than that. Hell, we just played Crosby and Malkin and got a point, racked up 5 goals, total end-to-end insanity. I just hope the media doesn’t go too nuts over the 3rd period shots thing is all.

  • JR from Halifax

    Calryle presser up on leafs TV now

  • DJBrianBurke

    JR from Halifax You should hear my mother talk, she’s from South America lol

  • Not Norm

    deedrag Not Norm Oh yeah, that was just one for letting rip, then hanging on, making it up as they went. Got a point. Good enough.

  • Wilbur

    Ignoring the officiating for a moment…
    1) Holland and JVR took blatantly monumentally stupid penalties that resulted in PP goals for PIT. Well disciplined teams don’t do that.
    2) Franson and Fraser were horrendous in our zone in terms of moving the puck and it had nothing to do with forwards not coming back deep in the zone. For that matter, Ranger was brutal as well with the puck in the Dzone. Dion, Rielly, Gunnar and Gardiner (although I’d like to kick his hockey IQ up a notch) can stay at this point and the others can leave.
    3) Nice to see the 3rd and 4th lines chipping in with some offense tonight. What’s that? They didn’t even come close? Oh well…who needs secondary scoring anyway.

  • deedrag

    JR from Halifax Agreed but we didn’t have a reffing issue the last game. The players can’t be a suck about it, they got to keep trying. Remember RCs words, something along the lines of we want the other teams to earn a win from us, noy just give it to them.

  • JR from Halifax

    Wilbur EXACTLY……couldn’t agree more on point 1. Elite teams don’t do that stupid shit

  • Cloud09

    Wilbur The bottom 6 is a total mess. IMO Ashton should be in as well as Levio. Get some guys with skill in there to move the puck and keep it out of the defensive zone.

  • JR from Halifax

    deedrag JR from Halifax I totally agree, I am pissed at the refs but I have been saying there are problems with this team. Focus, effort, whatever you want ot call it

  • wiski

    https://twitter.com/jonasTSN1050https://twitter.com/jonasTSN1050/status/405913138068877313
    Carlyle on Malkin’s GTG: “He pushed the goalie first and then deposited the puck…But we’re not supposed to complain about that stuff.”

  • Cloud09

    JR from Halifax Wilbur Elite teams also roll 4 lines, not 3. Another 4 min night for Smith-Holland-Orr…

  • T_Ry

    It occurs to me that while we’d all seemingly like to think that this is a regression on the Leafs’ part and someone needs to take the blame (apparently someone standing behind the bench), the following things may be true:
    1) As one of the league’s younger teams, the Leafs still just haven’t made the mental adjustments to dealing with adversity
    2) Although they looked like world-beaters in the playoffs last year, maybe they were playing over their heads
    3) This is the slump we were all waiting for 15 games ago – the one that will shake them out of their complacency and see the players commit to better decision-making
    …I realize that none of these possibilities allow for blame to be tossed around, which can seem cathartic after games like the last two, but you have to agree that they may make more sense than some of the accusations that are being made.

  • Loric76

    https://twitter.com/tsnscottcullenhttps://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen/status/405913902967316480
    Maple Leafs LW James van Riemsdyk 4 G, 2 A in last 6 GP

  • deedrag

    I miss the days when if a goalie went behind the net you could nail the crap out of them. I think Kadri missed that era.

  • Wilbur

    Also…What the fuck are we doing with McClement and Kulemin on the 4 on 4 in overtime? Seriously?

  • Loric76

    Wilbur making sure we get to the shootout

  • Wilbur

    Loric76 And what’s the team’s record in the last 6 games?

  • zakimak

    Wilbur That’s because ELITE teams has accountability. I have to agree that Kadri started that shit. A stupid play like that swings the momentum and next thing you know, it’s an avalanche. Should have been bench for the play.