The Leafs and the Habs met for the fourth time this season. In what was potentially a preview of the first round playoff matchup, it was important to get a win, not only because of the 5-2 loss in the ACC last time around, but because a win for the Habs would most certainly give them a home ice advantage in the potential series encounter. Here is how it all, beautifully, unfolded.
1) The Leafs are 23-13-5 and shoot score, shoot score, the Price is wrong, shoot score. This will be my last Game In 10 until the playoffs, so I hope you enjoy it. See you in the postseason boys!
2) Kadri gets high-sticked in the face early and the Leafs get their first PP of the game not even 2 mins into the hockey game. Swift work by Kessel, JVR and Bozak, who gets the goal. It was a good move by Kessel on the blueline, JVR then keeps the play alive, passes to Bozak and it’s 1-0 Leafs! That sure didn’t take long.
3) McLaren and Prust fought a bit later on. A spirited, long bout with no clear winner. Gotta give credit to Prust for taking on a bigger man there. Then again, he’s a Hab, most Leafs are indeed bigger.
4) Leo Komarov wins one footrace, stops on a dime and fires one on price with Orr driving to the net. Orr doesn’t touch it but it still ends up going through Price’s five hole. Then, at an end of a good PK effort (during which Reimer flashed the leather on a couple of occasions) Kulemin ends up going the other way, McClement follows up, gets the puck and pretends to be Crosby. What a goal! Drewiske scored after Gallagher beat Gunnarsson in the corner. Speaking of Carl, he got beat in plenty of puck battles in the opening period. This changed as the game moved on, but you still hate seeing it.
5) Just like that it’s 4-1 Leafs. Dion Phaneuf keeps the puck in and dances the blueline, takes it to the left side and releases a weak shot on weak goaltending, characterizing the Habs tonight. After Price broke his fastest NHL relief record (10 mins, 25 sec), Budaj surrenders another weak one. You had to laugh. It wasn’t as if the Leafs were outplaying Montreal at that point, but the pucks simply went in. 4 goals on 5 shots – you don’t see this every day.
6) Nazem Kadri put on a show of force tonight, knocking down Eller, Gallagher (penalty I kinda don’t mind seeing with a 4-1 scoreline). I love him imposing his will out there, only adding to a growing physical element in his game. The Leafs finished a ton of good hard hits tonight. The start of the second saw the Habs give up a couple of odd man rushes – one resulted in JVR’s feed to Kessel who scored his 15th of the season and 5th in his last 3 games played. Soon after, they gave up a 4 on 1 rush but the Leafs failed to convert.
7) Special teams were working once again, with the penalty killing continuing their league best march during the past month, month and a half, and the powerplay giving them that always important go ahead goal.
8) James Reimer was a stabilizing force in the Leafs’ crease, doing most of his best work of the night on the aforementioned penalty kill. Dion Phaneuf played another good game padded by a goal. I love seeing how the transition game improved when comparing it to years past. With Kadri, JVR, Kessel an co. on the ice the passes seem to be crisp, exists and entries much cleaner, and it created a lot of opportunities off the rush tonight. Supporting the puck much better all over the ice.
9) You and I both love Mark Fraser, you’ll probably love him more after I tell you he was (again) +2 tonight and after you watch this video. Glad to see him get rewarded for all his hard work. Jay McClement – what can you say about the guy besides he was everything this team needed and more? While the defensive play and penalty killing were the reasons he was brought to Toronto, the offense is a nice and unexpected bonus to have.
10) This was not an accurate representation of how good this Leafs team is, but I hope it’s an accurate representation of Montreal goaltending in the playoffs. No offense is 4-goals-on-5-shots good on a consistent basis, but the Leafs have been bearing down on their chances well all season and continue to show improved defensive zone coverage. The Leafs have won the season series against the Habs with this win and have points in 12 of their last 13 – enjoy!