For all intents and purposes this was a must win game. The Oilers are a young team with questionable defense who like to play a freewheeling game, and the Leafs had trouble dealing with their speed and net presence. Alternating 3 on 1s was a fitting way to end this one…
1 — The Leafs are 29-23-6 and finally, a win. Lots of entertainment value, not a lot of defense in this one.
3 — Not even a full minute in Lupul gets a drop pass from Kessel and shoots it past Khabibulin for an early Leaf lead. About a minute later, the Oilers D parts like the sea and Franson makes a good cross ice pass to find a streaking Lombardi on the Oiler blueline. Lombo comes in and easily beats Khabibulin for a 2-0 lead. Much needed good start, was good to see them come out with some fire after the last two results.
4 — Reimer decides to play the puck instead of leaving it for an icing touch up, and the puck ends up behind him, courtesy of Ben Eager. Really? 2:32 in and we—ve already seen 3 goals. What is this, a history lesson? Eager and Brown went at it after that, great fight, but Eager got the better of Brown and his helmet in that tilt.
5 — Sam Gagner sets up Taylor Hall, who gets a goal off a skate to tie the game at 2. On a side related note, I love this kid. I think he—s exactly what a hockey player should be. Goes full speed all the time, doesn—t care about anything except making the above average play, injuries be damned. Aulie went for a horribly timed change on the 2nd goal, which is why we had no left defenseman. Hemsky hits the post right after.
6 — Not a good second period. Reimer kept us in it for the most part even if his crease was crowded most of the time. The boys did pick it up late in the period and created some scoring chances. However, up until 5 minutes from the end of the period, the Leafs only generated two shots in the second. The Oilers hit four posts in the game, just saying¦
7 — Our third line troubles continue. There were points where it couldn’t get the puck deep, let alone cycle and maybe generate a chance or two. I mentioned Aulie’s change above, but he probably thought Lombardi would get that puck deep, which he failed to do. Wilson tried Brown opposite Armstrong and it seemed to give the third line a boost, including a good shift of sustained cycling and pressure. Might be a worthwhile experiment to continue next game.
8 — Entering tonight the Leafs had just four power play goals in their last 11 games, but they went 1/3 on the PP tonight as Jake Gardiner scores a big goal. The point shot took a deflection off Smid—s glove and ended up behind Khabibulin.
9 — The goal wasn—t as big because the Oilers put tremendous pressure late in the game and tied it with a sublime shot by Jordan Eberle, after the team again failed to take a chance to get the puck out (Brown was the guilty party this time). This Oilers team has so much young talent. An important note – they had to tank to acquire said talent. I—d rather we not tank.
10 – Connolly ends it in OT after Phaneuf saves his ass with a heroic backcheck to negate a 3 on 1 scoring chance and create one the other way. Connolly, who had the initial giveaway at the blueline, gets a lucky finish through the legs of Khabibulin.. maybe that’s what will get him going again.
10b — Got to keep in mind that this was a team that twice humiliated Chicago on home ice this season, but then again, that is a Blackhawks team that lost 9 in a row now. The team didn—t play all that well tonight, but managed to bust their slump and get an all important win. On one side it was a bad game by the boys, on the other – you need to win games like this one to get into the postseason.