Game in 10: Game #40, Leafs 4 vs. Sabres 3 (SO)

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TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 27: Zemgus Gergensons #28 of the Buffalo Sabres softens the landing for Dion Phaneuf #3 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on December 27, 2013 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Better than one point or zero, but all we can do is exhale and move on after this one. This was way too much of an adventure for a must win game against Buffalo. Still with just 1 regulation win in the last 19, this was the fourth straight Leafs game decided in a shootout. The Leafs led in the third period in three of them.

1 – In a nondescript first few minutes, the Leafs took 6 of the first eight shots. Not a great first 5 or so minutes, but not a horrible start, either.

2 – The keystone cops routine by the Maple Leafs was underway come the 7 mark. The Sabres had a total of 9 first period goals coming into this game, and had never scored two in the first period through 40 games. The gratuitous hosts had the honours of putting an end to that streak of offensive ineptitude.

The first Sabre goal started with a ring around the boards by Holland, which wasn’t met by a Leaf winger – a theme all season, and it happened a couple of times to start this game. Girgensons drove out front, got taken down by Holland, and threw it on net; Moulson jammed at it and it went in off Phaneuf.

3 – Now, that John Scott goal, the second of his career, may have looked bad, but consider this angle – Scott played 12:39 because of that goal. This is relevant later on in our game story.

(Seriously, that was the most embarrassed I’ve been as a fan since the Game 7 collapse).

4 – Right after that doozy (100% on Bernier), Morgan Rielly skated into the ref and nearly gave up a breakaway. The Leafs scrambled like headless chickens as the Sabres hit the post and nearly made it a third. I think Paul Maurice nailed it at the intermission – their heads must have been racing at a mile a minute, but all we could see was a team that was completely stunned and not moving their feet.

5 – The second period finally brought some urgency as the top line, who the onus was on to get this team going, came to life with a couple of relentless shifts in the middle of the second period. After a period of sustained pressure, Gardiner ripped a pass from Kessel that nearly blew a hole in the mesh. It was like the collective frustration of all of Leafs Nation was channeled into a single swing of the blade.

6 – After a really dumb play by the Sabre defender in the corner, Raymond found Holland in the slot for an easy-looking goal. Make that 9 points in the 12 games Holland has played 10 minutes or more.

The universe restored its natural balance as Scott took a dumb penalty a few minutes later and the Leafs scored on a powerplay; a beautiful pass from JvR to Kessel off a rebound generated from a Phaneuf point shot. 3-2 Leafs: All is right with the world, keep everyone, we didn’t mean what we said.

7 – There’s really nothing overly complicated about the way the Leafs got themselves back into the game. It sounds dumb as hell, but they just started playing. Where was this in the first? Why must we experience the utter hell of that first period before this team finds its way into the game? This team is an enigma wrapped in a puzzle surrounded in mystery.

8 – The Leafs should’ve scored an insurance marker and ended this one in regulation a couple of times over. The Rielly, Kessel and Lupul chances all come to mind. Got to have one of those.

9 – That’ll teach Randy Carlyle for taking a timeout (see why he doesn’t, guys?). The refs kept the whistles in his pocket almost all game, but a pretty weak call on Phaneuf led to a powerplay with under a minute to go. Bernier for the second time couldn’t seal a soft floater into the chester protector and it ended up in the back of the net a few seconds later.

Blame Phaneuf or Bernier as you may, that’s the 11th lead the Leafs have coughed up in the third period and ninth time they’ve gone to OT/shootout after leading going into the third period.

An amazing thing happened when Holland took a rare shift late in the game. A good forecheck, followed by a turnover, a good chance for Lupul, and an offensive zone faceoff late in the game.

IT’S THE WRONG APPROACH, CARLYLE.

10 – In a period of sustained pressure by the leafs for the final 1:30 of OT, there were a couple of great chances for JvR on a wrap around and Phaneuf from the slot that were denied by amazing toe saves by Ryan Miller.

The only reason the Leafs won the shootout was because the Sabres missed, hit the post, and mishandled the puck despite having Bernier beat in all three instances. Lupul continues to be great at scoring pretty shootout goals, too.

That’s about the least convincing way to collect six out of eight points as I’ve ever seen. I’d say it’s a good thing to play less than your best and still gather points, but we’re one game from the half way point. The Leafs are still in the mix, though. Give them that much.

NO.PLAYERPOSGAPTS+/-PIMSHITSBSGVATVAFO%PP TOISH TOITOI
3D. PhaneufD011-11250200-3:35:000:00:0025:56:00
4C. FransonD0222016000-3:35:000:00:0023:57:00
11J. McClementC000002100048%0:00:000:26:0020:05:00
12M. RaymondL0110040001-0:57:000:00:0018:02:00
15P. RangerD000-1012110-0:00:000:26:0017:58:00
19J. LupulL000007010233%3:30:000:00:0018:36:00
21J. van RiemsdykL01100500000%3:30:000:00:0022:29:00
22J. SmithsonC000000100050%0:00:000:00:005:20:00
24P. HollandC101-101001073%0:00:000:00:0016:09:00
28C. OrrR0000003001-0:00:000:00:005:16:00
29J. D'AmigoR0000001000-0:00:000:00:006:26:00
36C. GunnarssonD000-1001100-0:00:000:26:0019:04:00
41N. KuleminL0000012012-0:00:000:26:0018:29:00
43N. KadriC000101201038%0:57:000:00:0018:14:00
44M. RiellyD0001040221-0:52:000:00:0018:59:00
51J. GardinerD1010053220-0:52:000:00:0024:06:00
71D. ClarksonR0000024200100%0:57:000:00:0019:37:00
81P. KesselC1120030020-3:30:000:00:0020:51:00
NO.PLAYERSAVESSV%PIMTOI
45J. Bernier32 - 350.914065:00:00

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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]
  • adeel

    thought I was going to have a heartattack when Ott got that tying goal. anyway a much needed win regardless of how it went.

  • PEIleafnation

    yup take the 2 pts

  • Rick_Vaives_slapshot

    I hate turkey sandwiches. FUCK!!!!!

  • Cloud09

    Rick_Vaives_slapshot I get you’re not happy with the team, but you sound like a fucking crybaby right now.

  • wiski

    100% on Bernier I thought it was a bad bonce myself as he usually deflects those type of shots into the netting, but we all have our faves 😉

  • PEIleafnation

    wiski who plays snday? bernier or REIMS

  • Rick_Vaives_slapshot

    Cloud09Rick_Vaives_slapshot nah, just trying to make friends is all. Why the hate?

  • reenergized

    PEIleafnation wiski Bernier for the duration … unless he loses a stinker that was his fault …

  • wiski

    PEIleafnation wiski I’m with reen

  • Rick_Vaives_slapshot

    -Keon-Rick_Vaives_slapshotCloud09 apparently those that bounce, are hated.

  • Cloud09

    Rick_Vaives_slapshot Cloud09 No hate, I agree with you that this team’s effort sucks but you come off real whiny

  • Burtonboy

    What I did see tonight was much improved play by the defense as a whole. Too me that encouraging as its been a sore point all season

  • DJGLENN22

    wiski …….He blocked the shot and sent the rebound Gunnars way but he had his back turned and did not see it until last second and swung his stick and missed  buy then it was too late.

  • Rick_Vaives_slapshot

    Cloud09Rick_Vaives_slapshot well, all I can say is you don’t know me at all. I’m anything but. However, if you are trying to bait me into being that way, I wont.

  • wendelsway1

    Really liked the way Ranger took Moulson out of the play by using his face to take the net off…..too bad Gunnar couldn’t tie up Ott…….but again, they won….I’m good  :)

  • lieffan

    Burtonboy the sabres score less than the worst teams  ever scored
    but you’re right, it was mostly goaltending tonight. Responsible for 2/3

  • wiski

    Burtonboy It was a fucking disgrace in the first period, when will this team stop doing this to us.

  • Cloud09

    Rick_Vaives_slapshot Cloud09 Lol, I don’t need to know you to read what you’ve been posting here the last 60 minutes. What the fuck does you not liking turkey sandwiches have anything to do with the Leafs??

  • lieffan

    6/19 wins in the shootout, wild

  • Burtonboy

    wiski Burtonboy That wasn’t on the d though IMO

  • wiski

    Burtonboy wiski Dion scored on his own net ffs how is that not on the DDDDDion

  • Cloud09

    -Keon- Cloud09 Rick_Vaives_slapshot I’m lost on this analogy…

  • Burtonboy

    wiski Burtonboy Not surprised by this coming from a Dion hater

  • Rick_Vaives_slapshot

    Cloud09Rick_Vaives_slapshot just joking. lots of turkey???

  • Alec Brownscombe

    wiski Why is everything a favorites game? It was a terribly mismanaged puck that was easy to trap. It’s 100% on Bernier. It happens.

  • Cloud09

    Rick_Vaives_slapshot Cloud09 No turkey for me, I got ham, chicken and cabbage rolls this Christmas

  • Burtonboy

    https://twitter.com/mirtlehttps://twitter.com/mirtle/status/416786705744547840
    Bernier said he has worked on his play in shootouts and looked at video of what he had been doing wrong. Is trying to not be so deep in net.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    wiski Burtonboy The puck was floating in mid air, bounced off of him, and went in the net. Bernier has had several bad goals against – those are bad bounces, based on the commentary below. This – with the puck bounding off his stick as he tried to take the man – is apparently indicative of Phaneuf’s incompetence. 
    Nonsense, wiski.

  • wiski

    Burtonboy wiski not a hater my friend, but how many are you gonna let him put in your own net? he must lead the league

  • Rick_Vaives_slapshot

    Cloud09Rick_Vaives_slapshot that’s wonderful. Is that what is making you act like a dick right now? I’ll avoid those things.

  • Cloud09

    -Keon- Cloud09 Rick_Vaives_slapshot Unless turkey is done right it’s way to dry anyways. Need a boatload of gravy to make it worthwhile.

  • Leafbites

    Good work on game in 10. Man, how long before Rielly makes his ascent up the ranks of this blue line. Soon, I bet.

  • wiski

    Alec Brownscombe wiski Burtonboy If he took the man his stick would be out of the equation imo 😉

  • Burtonboy

    wiski Burtonboy Man you really have blinders on when it comes to Phaneuf but your a good friend and I respect your opinion even if I disagree vehimently  lol

  • Cloud09

    Rick_Vaives_slapshot Cloud09 Do whatever you want bud, I’m not going to stop ya. I just think you were coming off as whiny, sorry if I hurt your feelings.

  • wendelsway1

    Leafbites Yep….kid’s looking good.

  • Cloud09

    -Keon- Cloud09 Rick_Vaives_slapshot No, but that does sound good.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    wiski Burtonboy Bernier vs. Carolina. Bernier vs. Nashville. Bernier vs. Los Angeles. Bernier tonight on the second goal.
    Is this a trend, too?
    Good talent some times makes bonehaded mistakes, I’m not going to dismiss the guy entirely for it.

  • Burtonboy

    -Keon- Burtonboy The guy has a rep for being a very hard worker . My bet is he will improve a lot at shootouts when its all said and done

  • Cameron19

    wiski Burtonboy Not a hater? Has there ever been a goal you couldn’t blame on Dion?

  • djamon

    Burtonboy My suggestion for him is be better in Shootouts.

  • Leafbites

    wendelsway1 Leafbites There was no one on the ice tonight that could wheel like this kid, not even close.

  • Cloud09

    -Keon- Cloud09 Rick_Vaives_slapshot Mother of God!

  • Dangle_My_Berries

    can people tee up Gardiner for one timers more often…..that had crazy heat on it

  • Rick_Vaives_slapshot

    Cloud09Rick_Vaives_slapshot no, I’m fine. My feelings were hurt, killed and buried a long time ago. Now I just hate turkey sandwiches after 3 days. If I came off whiny, I’m not sorry. They sucked, and have sucked most of the year. Goaltending excepted.

  • Wilbur

    Watch the Scott goal again. Tell me, who is the forward that decided to coast at the last second and then had the “oh shit” moment when the puck came right back to Scott and he wasn’t covering him? Yes, Bernier likely shouldn’t have let out that rebound but there was another instance of the Leaf player not moving his feet and not hustling all the way back to pick up his man. If he does that then Scott doesn’t put the puck in the net. Unacceptable…

  • PepTalk

    Who here thinks that Dion gets a similar contract to Jay Boumeester? We would be so lucky!!

  • Cameron19

    At the end of the day, it won’t matter how many wins we had to get in the shootout vs. regulation or overtime, so long as we actually make the playoffs and pull our game together by then.

  • Alec Brownscombe

    Cameron19 wiski Burtonboy Is Phaneuf and own goals not add up to a total of 3, one of which was punched into his arm and disallowed?

  • Leafbites

    Wilbur Excellent point.