With a number of the opponents surrounding the Leafs in lottery territory winning the last few nights, the two points will upset Tank Nation. A pretty good road win by an injury ridden Leaf group regardless, and for me it’s never a bad thing to have a kid like Kadri come up and help your young and developing organization win a hockey game.
1 – The Leafs are 33-34-8, and this was both a more exciting game and a better effort from the Leafs than I was expecting.
2 – The Leafs find a way to hold onto a 0-0 tie despite 18 shots against in the first, spending most of the period in their own end, but survived in large part thanks to James Reimer. Minimal offensive zone time in first as the Leafs struggled to get the cycle game going. It’s not a game they’re particularly suited to play as currently constituted and it’s that much harder when the Devils have a third defender in Brodeur playing the role of sweeper.
3 – The depleted Leafs forward group surprised with a lively second period, generating some sustained pressure off the cycle. A number of good chances to start the period, with two point blank misses from Crabb and Lombardi.
4 – The good second period pays off as the Leafs get a bounce off a Luke Schenn point shot, which fell to Bozak to the right of Brodeur and Bozie dispatched it into the empty net.
5 – Shortly thereafter, the Leafs keep coming and the Marlies both get in on a goal as Kadri tips in a Gardiner slap pass. Marlies captain Ryan Hamilton sent the first pass over to Gardiner as the callups picked up points. Nice tip from Kadri.
6 – Leafs get Komisarek’d after a great 2nd period with a killer last minute goal. The constant theme with Komisarek this season has been him overpursuing for the hit. I suppose it’s good that he’s looking to be phyiscal but the blueline’s elder statesman should know when to pick his spots.
7 – The Leafs started sitting back the moment the third started. In spite of that, a good forecheck by Crabb generated a rebound for Steckel, who scores his first goal since January 7 against his former team. Steckel had seven goals in his first 38 games but only two points in his last 33. Carlyle would’ve liked a 3-1 lead in the third to be enough to win this one, but the game was far from over.
8 – Outside of that one good shift by Connolly – Steckel – Crabb (this line played an insane amount tonight, Crabb & Steckel in particular), the Devils continued to own the third. After Reimer struggles to get a handle of the puck and Gardiner gets outmuscled by Parise in front, the Devils are back within one.
9 – Komisarek was out for all three goals against and was involved directly in two of them – he lost a one on one battle on the boards that led to the third and tying goal by Adam Henrique. Whether it’s Carlyle or Wilson behind the bench, it’s quite evident Komisarek is no longer a capable NHL defenceman.
10 – Kovalchuk – Parise – Elias vs. Bozak – Connolly – Kadri? I’m surprised we came out on the winning end of that shootout, but Reimer’s one save topped Brodeur’s performance at the opposite end. Kadri’s signature back hand swoop move – effective both as back hand move or on the forehand depending on what he goes with – was a sweet way to end this one. A game bookended by solid play from James Reimer was topped by some Kadri magic.