The Leafs remain on an 82-0 pace after a thrilling home opener that had everything but a fight. The Leafs found a way to win despite a goalie pull and a 4-2 deficit, as their off-season additions shone bright en route to a 5-4 shootout victory.
1 – Troy Bodie was instrumental in opening the scoring five minutes into the opening frame. With his long strides and deceptive speed, he broke the blueline and threw a shot on net, before overpowering Jared Cowen and retrieving the puck. He found Bolland in front of the net, who made an instinctive backhand pass over to Mason Raymond at the right side of the net. Raymond buried into the empty cage, as the first home goal of the 2013-14 season goes to the found wallet. 1-0 Leafs.
Mason Raymond Scores
2 – After the bright start, turnovers, turnovers and more turnovers became the story for the Leafs in the 1st period. A continuing theme in the early season, Paul Ranger is consistently making bad reads or fumbling pucks leading to scoring opportunities against. The first was a simple case of forgetting the puck that led to a scoring chance right in the middle of the slot, which Reimer met with a glove save. The second was a bad pinch that led to a crossbar save off the stick of Kyle Turris. Ranger is clearly going through an adjustment period getting up to NHL speed, but got better as the game wore on.
Cody Franson also struggled at points, having had a hand in both goals against in the first period. His pairing alongside Morgan Rielly got dinged with the dash-2, but it was an unfair reflection on the debuting Rielly. In the build up to the Senators first goal, Rielly initially bailed out Franson’s giveaway with a nice shot block. The Senators gained the zone, however, and Turris slipped in between a bunch of collapsed Leafs down low and trickled one through Reimer to tie it at 1s.
Franson was at the center of another goal against later in first period. He couldn’t get the puck out of his feet right in front of the net, and the giveaway wound up on Conacher’s stick right in the slot. MacArthur did his best to celebrate like it was his goal, but don’t be fooled, Conacher snuck it through Reimer’s legs and it trickled over the goalline. Nice try, MacArthur.
3 – Another Franson turnover at the blueline led to a good thing; a slashing penalty against Zack Smith in the defensive zone. Raymond, Lupul and Kadri took the ice on powerplay unit #2. Raymond picked the pick up in the circle, and had the Sens PK unit thinking he was going back to the point before pivoting and threading a beautiful pass to Kadri. Kadri finished from the back post to make it 2-2, his first of the new season. The Leafs, considering the sloppiness of their play, were pretty fortunate to escape the first tied at 2s.
4 – Rielly made his impact known in the first 10 minutes of the 2nd period. With the Leafs defence core struggling to move the puck safely, Rielly was a breath of fresh air with heads-up, smooth-as-you-like puck movement off the backend.
5 – Things went off the rails pretty quick half way through the second period, and the result was Reimer getting pulled after 4 goals on 19 shots. With 9 minutes left in the 2nd, MacArthur was afforded quite a bit of space off the rush by Franson. MacArthur threw a soft shot at the net, which Reimer made a real mess of. He dove at the puck trying to grab his own rebound, ran into Rielly, and was down and out by the time the puck made its way back to Cowen on the point. Cowen finished into the empty net to make it 3-2 Senators. The very next shift, a massive rebound kicked out by Reimer off a routine point shot wound up in Bozak and Gunnarsson’s feet, before Spezza jumped on the loose puck and hammered it through Reimer’s legs.
6 – You could see Joffrey Lupul step his game up and start to take charge once the Leafs went down 4-2 and needed the bost. He drove the net hard twice for near goals, before his PP unit alongside Kadri and Raymond struck for the second time tonight. Lupul has fantastic instincts for finding little seams in the slot. This time he took it from stick to skate and back to the stick before a lightning quick release beat Anderson between the legs.
Lupul Scores to bring it to 4-3
7 – Phil Kessel continues to eat the Senators for breakfast. Early in the third period, he chipped the puck along the wall, and after Bozak tied up his man, Kessel covered about 50 feet of ice in three seconds to turn it into a 2 on 1 with JvR in front. JvR finished his second of the season on the beautiful cross crease pass from Kessel to make it 4-4.
JVR Scores from Kessel to tie it up
8 – Just when you thought both teams were going to batten down the hatches and ensure the point… it seemed neither were capable of doing such a thing. The game went into full-on pond hockey mode in a thrilling final few minutes. Ranger nearly ended it by cutting out a play and rushing the puck up ice and releasing a huge clap that nearly broke the cross bar. It turned around into a 2 on 1 the other way, which Phaneuf cut out expertly. The Leafs did well to earn a point, all things considered.
9 – A wild OT, which the Leafs had the better of, gave way to a shootout. Bozak did as Bozak does in the shootout, scoring again. Only there was a new shootout scorer in town. Raymond has already earned his million dollars as far as I’m concerned, and we’re three games into the season. He was fantastic all game, and pulled off the old Jason Blake spinorama in the shootout, which both helped the Leafs win the game and pissed off the Senators – a veritable double win.
10 – The Leafs are rarely ever out of games with the way they can generate offence in a moment’s notice. For a lot of teams, the bang-bang goals in the second would’ve been lights out. Without Clarkson and Kulemin in the lineup, this team still looks dangerously productive and what a testament that is to their offensive repertoire. New additions Bolland and Raymond, Lupul, Kessel, JvR are all off to hot starts, and it’s a beautiful thing.
The Leafs’ turnovers and defensive coverage breakdowns (of which the Sens were equally guilty) were a sore spot, but the whole “two good young goaltenders” thing seems to be working out pretty damn well, too. While the concept of healthy competition has some merit, one of the consequences, as far as Reimer is concerned, is that he won’t get the benefit of the doubt to play through his poor outings. Bernier was awesome in the third period for the Leafs. He was absorbing pucks, challenging shooters aggressively, covering for more Leafs defensive breakdowns, and survived an attempt on his life via the falling net. Unfortunately for Reimer, I’ve always thought James plays best when he’s given a run of starts, but there’s zero doubt Carlyle will and should go back to Bernier on Tuesday.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Ottawa Senators – Full Game (60mins)