The Toronto Maple Leafs snapped the St. Louis Blues’ shutout streak but not their winning streak as the Blues prevailed over the Leafs in overtime on Tuesday night.

Your game in ten:

1.  While the opening 20-minutes had the Leafs on their heels for long stretches, they finished strong the rest of the way against the hottest team in the league. In the first period, the Leafs had a 46.94 CF%, a 39.13 SCF%, a 12.5% HDCF%, and were outshot 16-8 at 5v5. From the final two periods, they had a combined 58.84 CF%, 57.14 SCF%, 66.67 HDCF%, and outshot the Blues 23-17. Coming off a lackadaisical showing in Arizona, Mike Babcock and the coaching staff did a better job of making in-game adjustments, the players found a way to dig in deeper in order to turn the game around, and the Leafs were able to gain a well-earned point against the hottest team in the NHL. While the overall body of work wasn’t perfect — and you’d have liked a more prepared, urgent start tonight against a lights-out Blues team — the Leafs should feel pretty good about their showings over a pretty grueling road trip.

2.  The Leafs may have lost out on a point, but the bigger loss may have come with a critical piece of their center depth going down to an injury. Nazem Kadri left the game after only playing one period due to suffering a concussion, likely from this hit delivered by Vince Dunn. The last time Kadri was unable to play for an extended period of time was during the 2018 playoffs because of a suspension, and the Leafs no doubt badly missed his two-way impact in the middle part of that series. Let’s hope it’s nothing too serious; LeafsPR initially tweeted it was a “precautionary” measure.

3.   Perhaps the Leafs don’t have to worry too, too much should Kadri be out for a short while, though, because William Nylander showed he can comfortably play the role of third-line center tonight. He has been one of the Leafs best players for the past few weeks and has been dominating the puck and taking control of the pace of play in recent games. Tonight, he was constantly making plays in transition, lugging the puck through three zones, moving the puck extremely well, and creating quality chances for both himself and his teammates.

While the most ideal spot in the lineup for Nylander is still likely next to Auston Matthews as far as the overall impact that duo provides, tonight’s game was another reminder that Nylander doesn’t need to play with Matthews in order to drive scoring chances. He’s very effective doing that on his own.

4.  Kadri was not the only player who’s absence made an impact on the Leafs lineup for an extended period of time. Early in the first period, Travis Dermott accidentally collided with Matthews and nearly injured his knee, forcing him to wobble off the ice and miss a bit of game action as a result.

As a result, the defense had to make quite a bit of adjustment during the period, most notably having Ron Hainsey play a team-high 7:13 TOI at 5v5 (!). It has already been covered ad nauseam that Hainsey would be far better utilized in a lesser role given his age and declining abilities, but it continues to be an area of concern within the Leafs lineup this late in the season. Hainsey ended up with the third highest TOI at 5v5 with 18:43, well ahead of Dermott (16:51) and Jake Muzzin (17:00), the player Kyle Dubas went out specifically to try and give Babcock and the coaching staff more depth and a more viable matchup pairing on the backend.

It could be a case of bringing Muzzin along slowly, but games like this could be further evidence that Dubas may need to make another trade that will bring in more defensive help to save Babcock from himself. Should a trade not transpire before the trade deadline on Monday, the only alternatives would be to continue to shuffle the pairings and/or insert Igor Ozhiganov or Justin Holl more frequently — not overly appetizing solutions if it likely means Babcock ends up back with the same old Rielly – Hainsey pairing up against the Boston top line come playoff time.

5.   As a whole, Tuesday night was a mixed bag for the Matthews line. At 5v5, the combination of Matthews, Patrick Marleau, and Kasperi Kapanen had a 0.61 xGF, a 1.27 xGA, a 54.55 CF%, and a 50.00 FF%. The Blues did an effective job at boxing out Matthews for much of the game, preventing him from attacking down the middle and forcing to take low percentage shots that were either stopped or blocked on the way through. Matthews and his line slowly adjusted, dug in harder, and were able to use their speed to create their scoring chances. It ended up working out as the line scored the game-tying goal to help secure the point.

Taking his strong play in the latter stages of the game into account makes his total ice-time of 16:52 all the more head-scratching, especially with Kadri out of the lineup.

6.  The Leafs penalty kill may have given up one power-play goal against on three attempts, but the unit was one of their biggest reasons — alongside a bunch of key stops from Frederik Andersen — that they hung around in the game and were able to get a point out of it — the Leafs had a 100% HDCF on the PK. The Leafs PK has success when it closes aggressively on puck carriers up ice, and that was on full display tonight.

7.  After a rough stretch with little going for them, the John Tavares line had their best showing of the entire road trip. They were strong on the puck at both ends, generated quality scoring chances, and showcased the chemistry between Tavares and Mitch Marner, which had been somewhat subdued in the previous few games. The line had a 0.6 xGF, a 0.35 xGA, a 61.54 CF%, and a 56.67 FF% at 5v5, which was the second-best on the Leafs behind the afromentioned Nylander line. This was best showcased on the team’s opening goal which came primarly because of a ridiculous individual effort from Tavares to get the puck around a barrage of Blues defenders.

The Tavares line has long been one of the Leafs most consistent throughout the season and have remained a trio for long stretches as a result. They willed the team back into this game in the third period.

8.  Out of all of the Leafs defenseman, it was Nikita Zaitsev who was the best of the bunch as he put together a strong game under the radar. At 5v5, he a 64.29 CF%, 15.60 CF% Rel, a 65.38 SF%, a 62.50 SCF%, and a 71.43 HDCF%, which had him ranked 1st, 1st, 4th, 2nd, and 4th on the team, respectively. Additionally, he and Jake Gardiner led all defensive pairings on either team with a 0.97 xGF and a 67.68 CF% at 5v5. Outside of a few questionable pinches in the neutral zone, Zaitsev did an admirable job at limiting the Blues from gaining much leverage on the attack and jumped up offensively with a couple of good low shots that generated rebound opportunities, one of which led to the Matthews goal. He takes a lot of flak — some of it deserved — but he deserves credit for a good performance when credit is due.

9.  The same cannot be said about the Leafs fourth line who had another poor showing in this game. Frederik Gauthier, Par Lindholm, and Connor Brown each combined for only 0.02 xGF, 0.36 xGA, and an atrocious 18.18 CF% at 5v5, which was the worst line for either team. Watching the game showed the line get hemmed in their own end multiple times over and for long stretches of time, even against the Blues own fourth line. The fact that they weren’t on the ice for a goal against was miraculous and was mostly due to Frederik Andersen’s steadiness in the crease. If bringing Trevor Moore back into the fold for NHL fourth-line minutes — as opposed to top-line AHL minutes — is not in the cards, nor a deadline addition to bolster the line, you wonder if at some point Babcock would seriously consider experimenting with an 11 forward, 7 defenseman approach in order to up the minutes of his star centers should this keep up.

10.  With this overtime loss, it put an end to the Leafs season-long six-game road trip. Over this stretch, they had a record of 3-2-1, which is pretty respectable all things considered. The Leafs ran into a brick wall in Alexander Georgiev despite largely dominating the Rangers, strung together two convincing wins against the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights, and there was an exciting win over the Montreal Canadiens in the mix as well, even if they were slightly outplayed in that game at evens. That said, with the play of the competition immediately ahead and behind them in the Atlantic Division at the moment, the Leafs need to start stringing together some winning streaks of their own, and the upcoming four-game homestand is a good time to get one started.

Game Flow: 5v5 Shot Attempts

Heat Map: 5v5 Shot Locations

Condensed Game