The Toronto Maple Leafs’ offense kept rolling but so did the goals against as the New York Rangers snapped Toronto’s six-game winning streak in overtime on Saturday night.

First Period

The Rangers dictated the pace right off the bat, generating some quality scoring chances. It didn’t take long before they capitalized — after opening the scoring in eight straight games under Keefe between December 7-23, the Leafs have now given up the first goal in two consecutive.

It’s not the first time the Leafs have had trouble protecting the middle of the ice lately, and it was evident again here. John Tavares and Cody Ceci did not react in time, although that’s a shot Frederik Andersen could’ve stopped.

Much like in New Jersey, the Leafs responded well, seemingly undeterred by the early hole as they pressed on the ensuing shift. As a result of some hard work by Dmytro Timashov, they earned themselves a man-advantage opportunity.

On the ensuing power-play, the Leafs top-unit stayed out on the ice for the full two minutes and were moving the puck well. The Leafs‘ power play, in general, looks lethal in-zone provided they’re able to gain the zone effectively. John Tavares’ excellent pass in tight down low set up Nylander for his 16th of the season:

Staying out on the ice for a total of one minute and 58 seconds, it was a good call by Sheldon Keefe to ride his big guns in search of an immediate response.

Initially, the pace of play appeared to have evened out with both teams trading blows at both ends of the ice. A few minutes later, however, the Rangers capitalized on another mistake by the Leafs.

Pierre Engvall has been playing well since being called up a few weeks ago, but this was a costly error in decision making to attempt a weak backhand pass across the width of the defensive zone.

Despite the setback, the Leafs pushed back and generated a number of good looks:

Another defensive breakdown resulted in a breakaway chance from Pavel Buchnevich, who was tangled up by Tyson Barrie and was awarded a penalty shot. Fortunately for Barrie, Andersen made the save to keep the deficit at one.

On a positive note, this was a good demonstration of the Matthews’ line effectiveness in their aggressive pursuit of the puck following a chip-and-chase dump-in play, led by Matthews initial forecheck:

Second Period

As was the case in the opening frame, both teams started the second with a flurry of chances. The Leafs were generating the majority of the shot attempts at goal, including this ripped one-timer from Matthews as he rotated up high:

The Matthews line also executed an interesting set play off an offensive-zone faceoff:

When the Rangers got chances of their own, they were taking full advantage throughout the game:

A turnover in the neutral zone was in the back of the Leafs net in a flash, although you’re looking for a save here from Andersen. Dermott and Andersen could be seen discussing this goal a little later on — it looked like Dermott’s stick was caught in that no-man’s land where he didn’t get stick on puck but did make the initial read off the stick difficult for Andersen.

With the deficit now at two, the Leafs continued to apply the pressure on Georgiev, including a strong power-play that came up short. A quick play off the faceoff by the Matthews line got the Leafs back in the game.

What else can be said about Auston Matthews’ shot that hasn’t already been said? He’s now scoring one-timers, too, with regularity. But this goal is created by the urgency off of the faceoff from the wingers in Marner and Hyman.

The Leafs offense of late has more or less been firing on all cylinders under Sheldon Keefe, but Morgan Rielly is one of few exceptions, currently in the midst of a 27-game goalless drought heading into the game. Here he jumps up into the play and nearly gets the monkey off his back:

In the late stages of the period, the Rangers were able to snag momentum when they were given a chance on the power-play. With a barrage of scoring chances, they would have extended their lead if not for this key block by Martin Marincin.

The Rangers were able to extend their lead not long after their man-advantage expired on this nice move off the rush by Mika Zibanejad that again was a stoppable puck.


Third Period

The Leafs showed the requisite urgency at the start of the third. As had been the case most of the night, they were aggressively pursuing the puck carrier and forced steals were turning into instant scoring chances.

All night long, Nylander was a workhorse on the puck and was setting up chances aplenty, with the Tavares-Nylander duo off to a good start and showing plenty of instant chemistry.

With the confidence of having overcome third-period deficits in spectacular fashion in the recent past, the Leafs continued to apply the pressure as the period progressed and looked hell-bent on evening the game up. After a strong shift on the cycle, the Leafs chipped away at the deficit.

The third line came alive in the third period, and this was their best shift of the night. Just prior to this goal, Kasperi Kapanen came close after receiving a great pass from a falling Jason Spezza. Barrie took advantage of a tired group of Rangers with a nice delay move at the point to get the shot on net for Engvall to tip in.

With momentum on their side, the Leafs had another injury-related scare when Marner took a wild breakout pass from Trouba on the ear:


Despite losing such a key part of the roster temporarily, Toronto didn’t take their foot off the gas pedal and kept up the pressure with some quality looks.

With time winding down, the Leafs pulled their goalie and threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Rangers to tie the game, including Matthews coming close on a struck post.

On the very next play, Matthews tried again from a similar spot, making no mistake on his second attempt.

The Leafs were doing a great job getting pucks to the net and generating quality looks from the slot and high-percentage areas. Ho hum — yet another multi-goal game for Matthews, who is now closing in on 30 halfway through the season.


After some solid puck movement down low early in overtime, Rielly nearly put this one away.

As is often the case at 3-on-3 OT, a big chance and save at one end led to a grade-A chance the other way. Tony DeAngelo buried the OT winner, snapping the Leafs winning streak in the process. Tyson Barrie didn’t cover himself in glory with his 2v1 defending ability here:

Post Game Notes

  • Much like their game against the New Jersey Devils on Friday, the Toronto Maple Leafs manufactured a ton of opportunity from an offensive standpoint by generating quality looks off the cycle and from the slot. However, untimely turnovers and defensive breakdowns resulted in quality chances and goals against and, unlike the previous night, they were unable to come away with the two points. There’s no doubt that the Leafs will gladly take the point based on their overall performance in this one, but it’s notable that they have now slipped to 24th in the NHL at 3.23 goals against per game after allowing 15 goals in their last three games.
  • Partly that’s to do with Frederik Andersen coming back to Earth in the last four starts — he’s posted a .869 save percentage in that span, and yet the team has gone 3-0-1. In this game, he stopped 29 of 34 shots against, recorded a .853 SV%, a 5.54 GAA, a .800 HDSV%, and 1.54 xGAA. No matter how good your starter is, goaltending is going to ebb and flow throughout an 82-game season and the larger concern is that the Leafs need to take strides in their defensive-zone structure and puck/risk management.
  • That’s made all the more difficult by the extended absence of Jake Muzzin, which poses questions the Leafs have no easy answer for. The Dermott and Ceci pairing was a dash-three in this game and hasn’t earned a ton of trust out of Keefe, who has a pretty firm cap on their even-strength minutes around the 14-15 minute range. Full marks to Martin Marincin for stepping in and doing a respectable job in his first NHL action in a long time, but Marincin – Holl gives nobody an easy feeling, while Rielly-Barrie has lived up to the billing as a high-event pairing that hopefully nets out positively in the aggregate but is difficult to trust in the marquee matchups. Just in terms of the type of defenseman Muzzin is — a prototypical shutdown defenseman who can be effective in the modern era — you could argue you’d take any injury but his on the Leafs’ blue line given its strengths/weaknesses. Major challenges lie ahead for this blue line.
  • Speaking of Morgan Rielly and Tyson Barrie, this was a classic Rielly – Barrie game. Both were dangerous in the offensive zone but were often a trainwreck without the puck. On a positive note, the pair registered a 60.47 CF%, a 60.00 FF%, a 57.69 SF%, a 62.59 xGF%, a 54.55 SCF%, and a 66.67 HDCF% at even strength. While the numbers do look impressive, they don’t tell the whole story as both were on the receiving end of some rough defensive sequences in transition and when protecting the slot (or failing to). They also combined to post 17 (!) shots on net and it was good to see Barrie show signs of getting his mojo back with a nice pump fake at the offensive blue line leading to the Engvall goal. Sheldon Keefe would’ve gone into this situation eyes wide open in terms of the risk-reward, and honestly, there seems to be no better option with the current construction on the blue line combined with the Muzzin injury.
  • The top-line of Zach Hyman, Auston Matthews, and Mitch Marner were once again the driving force of the Leafs offense for a second straight night. The trio finished the game with a combined 61.11 CF%, a 61.54 FF%, a 56.25 SF%, a 58.40 xGF%, and a 66.67 HDCF% at even strength, along with a combined four points. With a lot of skepticism prior to Matthews and Marner partnering up once again about their ability to work together on a line, it’s safe to say they’ve proven the “no chemistry” myth was laughable. In the past four games, the two have been involved on the score sheet and at least one of them has posted a multi-point performance. It’s not like it’s one-and-done rush offense; they’re generating so much off of the cycle as a line. Matthews looks particularly invigorated by the opportunity next to Marner, and vice versa.
  • Not much to go on in Adam Brooks‘ debut with under five minutes of ice time as Keefe lost the fourth line in the shuffle of chasing the game. Kenny Agostino probably will receive a look, while Timothy Liljegren will also probably find his way into the Leafs lineup at some point as well. With Alex Kerfoot shifting to the left to fill on for the absences of Ilya Mikheyev, Andreas Johnsson and Trevor Moore down the left, forcing Spezza into a top-nine center role, this upcoming stretch will be a huge test for the Leafs’ overall depth both up front and on the backend.

Clip of the Night

Notable Stats

Game Flow: 5v5 Shot Attempts

Heat Map: 5v5 Shot Locations

Condensed Game