The Toronto Maple Leafs emerged with the all-important two points in unconvincing fashion after coughing up two leads (3-1 and 4-3) in the third period and prevailing late in overtime against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night.

Your game in ten:

1.  In the opening minute of the game, Travis Dermott hopped on for the tail-end of Ryan Getzlaf’s shift and showed why it is difficult to trust him against high-end competition — his aggressiveness gets him into trouble sometimes when he overplays situations unnecessarily. Getzlaf was 45 seconds into his shift, his linemates were tired, and he had no one with him on a solo rush. Dermott showed his hand with a stab at the puck in the neutral zone that Getzlaf easily maneuvered around before walking in and getting a shot off from the edge of the slot (fortunately, Jack Campbell was awake early). Dermott’s feet and overall agility are great assets that enable him to gap up well and cut out plays in the neutral zone, but you’ve got to know who you’re up against and identify the situation correctly. Getzlaf should’ve had no play but to chip the puck in and peel for a change until Dermott overplayed it and created an opening for him to exploit.

2.  I was looking at the Leafs’ lineup before the game after William Nylander was made a late injury scratch and thinking they were going to need another big game from the Matthews-Marner duo — and they duly delivered. But so did Jason Spezza in the third period, as he was instrumental on the 4-3 and 5-4 goals. His old-school fake-slap-and-roof-it move on 4-3 goal spoke for itself, but the play in tight to free up the puck late in OT shouldn’t go unnoticed as well. The Leafs were getting outbattled on their own power play quite a bit throughout the night — they ended up scoring on it twice but wasted a lengthy 5-on-3 and also gave up a shorthanded goal — but Spezza did a nice job of controlling the loose puck along the wall under heavy pressure and making a play so Marner could work his magic to Tavares for the game-winner.

3.  I thought the Leafs showed good commitment defensively for much of the first 40 minutes in terms of clogging up the slot, defending in layers, getting into shooting lanes, and blocking more shots than usual for their debuting goaltender; they had blocked 15 shots before the first two periods were through to Anaheim’s four, and it’s not like they were out-possessed in the first two periods.

Their first period wasn’t anything to write home about, but they had a solid second period and built a two-goal lead before they started to slip late in the middle frame and then lost their way in the third, getting back on their heels for lengthy stretches. Sheldon Keefe’s assessment was that it was a matter of shaken confidence after a tough week. It is out of character for the team under his leadership — they’ve been a top-five team in shot attempts and expected Goals share when leading since the coaching change. Staying aggressive with the lead is perhaps easier said than done after a few mistakes end up in the back of your net and cost you a game, but the Leafs have to get back to that part of their identity.

4.  Kyle Clifford didn’t keep his head on a swivel on the 1-1 Anaheim goal and also took a (kind-of-soft) penalty leading to the 3-3 goal, but by and large, his physicality was a breath of fresh air. He went hard to the net, mixed it up with Ryan Getzlaf in a scrum, showed he could play with decent pace and hang onto a puck, and you could see him drag his linemates (Kapanen) into the fight a little bit at one point after he finished a check hard. He played a shade over 12 minutes and his line came out on the positive side of the possession share.

5.  Jack Campbell, meanwhile, would probably want the 4-4 goal back, but he didn’t really have a chance on the other three, although he could’ve handled the puck behind his net a little more cleanly/decisively on the sequence prior to the 3-3 power-play goal. I am not going to call it an amazing debut, but he was generally on his angle and emanated calmness in his crease. I also think judging it too deeply would be unfair of anyone as he’s been airlifted into a tough situation with little time to get his bearings.

6.  It was 65 minutes of action for Campbell tonight, although he wasn’t really tested in overtime. I personally would err on the side of what the statistics say about playing a goalie twice in a back-to-back; the team got the two points tonight and I don’t see the sense in overdoing it right away by playing Campbell in a tough building against a rested team. He is no doubt playing on a bit of an adrenaline rush given the situation, but it’s not really setting him up for success by making him do something he’s never done in the NHL before (start back-to-back games). These things are “feel” calls, though, that are better left to the professionals closer to the situation.

7.  40 goals in 55 games really is a special feat to witness. In franchise history, only Rick Vaive and Dave Andreychuk have ever scored 40 goals 55 games into an NHL season — both did it under high-scoring conditions in their respective eras. Auston Matthews is very much throwing this team on his back at the moment with not only incredible goal-scoring prowess but consistently-engaged 200-foot hockey. Keefe mostly went to Matthews in the Getzlaf matchup on home ice tonight. Tavares used the word MVP after the game — and it’s fully deserved.

8.  A couple of tough giveaways from Rasmus Sandin tonight — I put the shorthanded goal just as much on him as Andreas Johnsson as it was an awkward pass into Johnsson’s feet where Sandin should’ve skated or dumped it in. But Sandin made a nice play to settle the puck down in the neutral zone before the 1-0 goal, and the pairing, overall, gave the team solid minutes.  Timothy Liljegren, one bad icing aside, played a mistake-free game, moving the puck sharply in limited minutes and playing an efficient game where he didn’t play outside of himself, which he was a little guilty of in his NHL debut.

9.  You don’t wish an injury on anyone, but Cody Ceci’s high-ankle sprain is coming at an interesting time. If the Leafs shut down Ceci for the rest of the regular season, give Liljegren a good run of opportunity, and bring Ceci back as playoff depth, while enabling them to potentially use the $4.5 million in cap space ahead of the deadline in anticipation of the playoff cap freedom, it might be the best of all worlds.

10.  On the team’s extended 5-on-3 late in the first period, it was really unclear what the team was trying to set up there. At a couple of different junctures, they had two right-handed shots up high and close together in Tyson Barrie and Mitch Marner looking like they wanted to set up a one-timer from distance. The two forwards down low were both really tight to the net/net-front defender, as opposed to the man in the middle presenting a slot option. It was just an awkward-looking arrangement overall. The sum total was one shot on goal from two low-percentage Barrie shot attempts. The absence of William Nylander didn’t help, but Barrie also can’t naturally feed Matthews’ one-timer as a right-handed shot; where Barrie was taking low-percentage shots from high in the zone, a left-shot can take a few strides into the high slot, draw in a penalty killer, and try to feed Matthews on his one-time side.


Game Flow: 5v5 Shot Attempts

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Anaheim Ducks


Heat Map: 5v5 Shot Attempts

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Anaheim Ducks


Game Highlights: Leafs 5 vs. Ducks 4 (OT)