Less convincing than it should have been thanks to an atrocious third period, the Leafs grabbed a much-needed two points and split their home and home with the lowly Sabres. It was the Leafs’ first multi-goal game since October 30th vs. Calgary. Let’s never speak of these two games again.
1 – The Leafs were in good shape from puck drop after a good couple of shifts by Trevor Smith, Joffrey Lupul and David Clarkson. Five minutes into the game, a faceoff win by new guy Peter Holland, his second consecutive in the offensive zone, drew the puck back to Kessel, who deferred to the point. Gardiner went D to D to Franson, who threw the puck on net for JvR to tip home. Enroth, fortunately, was playing instead of Miller and looked clueless on this goal. After five games without a goal or a point, four of which were spent at center, JvR was back on the board.
2 – On that line’s next shift, Leafs Nation smiled collectively as JvR and Kessel broke open on a trademark transitional odd man opportunity. With JvR back in his rightful place, the dynamic pairing would’ve been back in business if Kessel had converted on a gimme cross-crease, 2 on 1 chance. Kessel has just been off these last three or four games.
3 – A minute later, Lupul drew a penalty after jumping on a turnover and surging through the middle of the Buffalo defence. Lupul won the draw (on with Kessel and JvR) on the following PP, before pretty much the exact same goal played out for a second time as JvR tipped a Franson point shot past Enroth. Really smart placement on that point shot by Franson, putting it intentionally wide to the right into a tip-able area based on JvR’s positioning. That’s 12 assists on the season for Franson, 9 goals for JvR.
4 – 13 minutes into the game, the Leafs had scored more goals in a single game than their last five outings. The Leafs dominated the first territorially and on the scoreboard, cycling plenty and getting pucks to the net. Carlyle had to have been pleased with the Leafs getting shots to the net with traffic in front during the first period, generating some in-zone offense.
5 – The first ten minutes to the 2nd were low key, save for two Leafs PKs and Steve Ott starting a fight with David Clarkson. The Leafs should’ve put the game out of reach 12 minutes into the 2nd. Paul Ranger started the play off in the Leaf end, before Kulemin made a nice bounce pass to push the puck up the wall to Raymond. Raymond, following a smooth pivot and pass, found a trailing Kulemin for his first of the season. That’s the nice release we see too little of from Kulemin, who came into the game with 2 shots in his previous 7 games.
6 – The Sabres got themselves back into the game three minutes into the 3rd after a bad bounce in the defensive zone off Carl Gunnarsson’s skate sprung into McBain’s wheelhouse at the top of the right circle. A heavy slapshot beat Reimer glove hand high.
7 – The Leafs seemed to think this one was in the bag after 40 and came out dead flat in the third period. The Sabres, trailing by several, had nothing to lose, pressing and pinching aggressively down the walls. The Leafs almost always start turning pucks over in dangerous places when that happens.
8 – The Leafs ended up shorthanded after Phaneuf was felled by a charging neanderthal and a skirmished ensued. Phaneuf was angry and took a cross checking penalty on McCormick, which is obviously a double whammy as Dion is a penalty killing mainstay. The Leafs probably shouldn’t engage in that kind of stuff when trying to hold onto a lead. Neither McClement or Kulemin picked up Tyler Ennis in the slot on the ensuing PK, and James Reimer got caught deep in his net on a stoppable shot.
9 – Worth pointing out a huge shot block from Jake Gardiner on a point blank shot from Steve Ott in the slot after the game was 3-2. The Leafs were playing with fire in the final 10 minutes. There’s something disturbing about getting schooled (14-2 shots before the powerplay) all third period by the worst team in the league. The Leafs were bailed out by a stupid tripping penalty from Ville Leino with a little more than 2 minutes to go. Mason Raymond iced the game for the Leafs on the PP with a minute left in the game. Raymond jumped on a loose puck that caromed off the boards across the offensive zone, and got a friendly deflection off a Sabre stick blade that sent a flutter ball past Enroth (bar down). Two-point night for Raymond (7 goals, 15 points on the season).
10 – Holland was 7 for 11 on draws and put two shots on goal in a pretty safe 12 minutes of work in his Leaf debut. Holland handled himself well for a 22-year-old kid who thought he was a Norfolk Admiral at 10 a.m. this morning and wound up playing for the Leafs, centering Kessel and JvR, 14 hours later. He gets around the rink well for a tall kid. Carlyle kept this line’s minutes limited (12-13 minutes each). Smith, Clarkson and Lupul were leaned on most heavily among the forwards, lining up against the Hodgson-Moulson line throughout much of the night.
Sabres at Leafs - November 16Leafs 4 vs. Sabres 2.
|21||J. van Riemsdyk||L||2||0||2||0||0||4||0||0||1||1||100%||1:38:00||1:35:00||16:25:00|
|34||J. Reimer (W)||33 - 35||0.943||0||59:35:00|
|5:45:00||TOR||James van Riemsdyk (8) Slapshot - ASST: Cody Franson (11), Jake Gardiner (4)||1 - 0 TOR|
|13:35:00||TOR||PPG - James van Riemsdyk (9) Tip-in - ASST: Cody Franson (12), Dion Phaneuf (6)||2 - 0 TOR|
|11:49:00||TOR||Nikolai Kulemin (1) Wrist shot - ASST: Mason Raymond (8), Paul Ranger (5)||3 - 0 TOR|
|2:15:00||BUF||Jamie McBain (2) Slapshot - ASST: Zemgus Girgensons (5), Marcus Foligno (5)||3 - 1 TOR|
|6:11:00||BUF||PPG - Tyler Ennis (3) Snap shot - ASST: Matt Moulson (10), Cody Hodgson (9)||3 - 2 TOR|
|18:56:00||TOR||PPG - Mason Raymond (7) Slapshot - ASST: Trevor Smith (1), David Clarkson (3)||4 - 2 TOR|