A rollercoaster ride ended in disaster for the Maple Leafs on Wednesday night as Toronto surrendered a 4-0 lead in under 28 minutes to drop an overtime decision to the Winnipeg Jets.

This one was a little too on-the-nose, hockey Gods.

(Add in Auston Matthews missing a breakaway five seconds before Patrik Laine’s hat-trick-completing game winner in overtime).

It is worth pointing out that this game was much closer as a contest than the scoreline indicated at 4-0. The Leafs capitalized on their chances and got the better goaltending early, but even-strength possession favoured the Jets for the majority of the game, outside of a strong middle portion of the first period from the Leafs. That obviously doesn’t excuse squandering a four-goal lead in the final 28 minutes.


– The simple analysis is that the Leafs weren’t able to execute under pressure late in the game as Winnipeg turned on the jets and went full-court press pinching down the walls. Martin Marincin playing 25 minutes on his wrong side certainly doesn’t help matters — and seems like an avoidable issue, given the right-handed Nikita Zaitsev was again one of the Leafs’ best defencemen — but this collapse was a collective effort from a young team that got caught in the headlights, with some bad luck mixed in (the bounce on the Mark Scheifele goal, plus an iffy call on Morgan Rielly setting the stage for the tying goal after a positive 3-4 minutes for the Leafs).

– The Leafs PP got back on track in a big way with two goals back-to-back on a 5 on 3 and subsequent 5 on 4. Both were generated off of better execution by the wingers on lost faceoffs. Kadri dug a puck out of the feet of a couple of Jets’ defenders on the 5 on 3, enabling Zaitsev and Matthews to combine quickly and tee up Nylander’s first goal of the season (a lethal finish, as well) before the Jets’ three-man unit could get itself set. On Kadri’s goal – set up beautifully by Nylander, who shaped his pass perfectly around the defender’s stick — Komarov was full value for his secondary assist after winning the battle with the left-side defenceman off of the centre-ice faceoff. No major secret to the success — winning battles allowed the team’s ample skill on man advantage units to take over.

– The only reasonable explanation for the lack of ice time for Marner in the 3 on 3 OT is that he was hurt following his earlier shot block, but he hadn’t missed a shift previously. Again Marner was one of the most dangerous players on the ice for the Leafs. A little more luck and he would’ve put the game away for his team. His best chance of the game came in the third period on a rebound alone on the doorstep — he sent the puck back to the point and slipped in behind three Jets players undetected to the net, reading where the play was headed; a good example of Marner’s anticipation and awareness on the ice. A little while later, as the Leafs manufactured a bit of a push back late in the third prior to Morgan Rielly’s penalty, he picked out Bozak with his peripherals coming out from behind the net, surprising him with a ridiculous saucer pass through a maze of players in the slot, right onto Bozak’s tape at the back post. It should’ve been over right there.

– Frederik Andersen was arguably the Leafs’ best player through two periods, but — like the rest of the team — it went off the rails in the third. Laine’s shot is indisputably elite, but he made a couple of those shots look better than they actually were. He was certainly slow getting across on the powerplay one-timer goal.

– Didn’t love the overall game at even strength from Matthews, Nylander and Hyman for the second game in a row. They had plenty of good moments offensively, and Nylander, in particular, was really threatening at different times throughout the game, but they had some long shifts pinned in their zone where they unable to break the Jets cycle and/or couldn’t clear the zone despite a number of opportunities to do so. They get a pass on the one bad third-period shift because Nylander was clearly going to skate the puck out of danger before he was felled by an obvious trip (no call). “Liked their game offensively but didn’t like it defensively,” was Babcock’s summary.

– I liked Jake Gardiner’s start to the game — his read in the neutral zone helped create the first goal, and he jumped in the rush intelligently early on — but it was a bad decision to pinch when he should’ve laid off later in the second period, leading to the Tyler Myers goal off the odd-man rush that let the Jets hang around initially. There is something to be said for staying aggressive, but he has to be smarter with a four-goal lead. Also liked Connor Carrick’s game for much of the first two periods – smart with his step-ups, jumped in the play smartly for his 1-0 goal — before he played that 2 on 1 on the Myers goal quite poorly and then put the critical clearance opportunity on the stick of Ehlers on the tying goal in the final minute. Teachable moments…

– Finishing with a positive, the Leafs got another good effort out of their fourth line for much of the game. On the heels of a strong performance versus the Bruins on Saturday, they were able to turn the tide a couple of times with some hard-working offensive zone shifts.

– One more: Both are awesome players and will be elite at their respective positions, and for that very reason I still draft Auston Matthews over Patrik Laine seven days a week and twice on Sundays.

Game In Six

Jets 5 vs. Leafs 4 (OT) – Even Strength Shot Attempts


Jets 5 vs. Leafs 4 (OT) – Player Possession Stats

NameCorsi ForCorsi AgainstCorsiCorsi For%Zone Start%
MATT HUNWICK1221-936.36%30.77%
CONNOR CARRICK1712558.62%57.14%
ZACH HYMAN1821-346.15%53.85%
CONNOR BROWN1210254.55%12.50%
MATT MARTIN118357.89%12.50%
MITCHELL MARNER1319-640.62%70%
MILAN MICHALEK818-1030.77%12.50%
NIKITA ZAITSEV1531-1632.61%35.71%
PETER HOLLAND128460%12.50%
JAMES VAN RIEMSDYK1517-246.88%72.73%
WILLIAM NYLANDER1722-543.59%53.85%
FREDERIK ANDERSEN5166-1543.59%42.50%
AUSTON MATTHEWS1623-741.03%53.85%
TYLER BOZAK1518-345.45%72.73%
NAZEM KADRI818-1030.77%12.50%
MORGAN RIELLY2323050%45%
LEO KOMAROV816-833.33%12.50%
JAKE GARDINER1514151.72%57.14%
MARTIN MARINCIN2031-1139.22%38.89%

Jets 5 vs. Leafs 4 (OT) – Game Sheet

M. Michalek15:390100:000:4910/00
M. Hunwick20:190000:001:3700/00
M. Martin11:180000:001:0430/00
J. van Riemsdyk14:4101-10:560:0030/10
P. Holland12:380000:001:5330/60
T. Bozak14:4900-10:560:0010/60
Z. Hyman16:300000:001:2720/12
M. Marincin24:47:0000-20:002:2850/00
J. Gardiner13:4600-10:560:0030/00
M. Rielly24:41:000100:562:1200/02
L. Komarov17:520101:101:0410/00
F. Andersen62:40:000002:064:0500/00
C. Brown12:500000:001:5300/00
M. Marner14:4701-20:560:0010/02
A. Matthews17:5701-11:100:0070/60
N. Zaitsev24:33:0001-11:100:1600/00
C. Carrick13:241010:001:3730/00
W. Nylander16:301101:100:0030/60
N. Kadri16:542001:100:0040/100

Mike Babcock Post Game