Nobody is going to call this one a work of art, but we are at the point where the win is what matters.

This is a tight playoff race, and the Florida Panthers also won tonight. The Toronto Maple Leafs couldn’t afford to lose points to a tired Arizona team at home. It looked like they had at one point — the Coyotes scored in overtime — but the goal was ultimately disallowed as Derek Stepan did appear to hinder Jack Campbell’s ability to save the puck. After the refs called it off upon further review, the Leafs predictably scored to win the game. They basically needed to come back three times on the night, as they were down 1-0 and 2-1. But two points is two points.

Your game in ten:

1.  The Leafs almost always start the game with the Jake Muzzin and Justin Holl pairing when they have both been healthy. For this game, the Leafs mixed it up and started the Travis Dermott and Tyson Barrie pairing before putting their usual first-shift pairing on second. This might have been a response to the Coyotes starting with the Brad Richardson line. It seemed a bit out of sorts at the start as it wasn’t their regular routine; the Muzzin pairing came out second and was promptly scored on. It might have just been a bad shift, but hockey players are truly creatures of habit and it did look a little off. The line shuffling also took some time to figure out for the roster as a whole.

2.  If the early goal wasn’t an indication of how the Leafs entered the game, they went to a power play after going down 1-0 and proceeded to give the puck away and lose battles a number of times. Auston Matthews tried to saucer a puck through the neutral zone that got batted down, Sandin lost a battle, and both units created absolutely nothing. When they say it’s a long season, and that it’s Arizona on a Tuesday night – that is basically how this game started. This played into Arizona’s hands as they want to play a slow, grind-it-out game that bores their opponents — especially when it’s against the Leafs, a team they can’t keep up with on firepower.

3.  The Leafs’ second power play, in the second period, was much better with Auston Matthews hitting the post on a one-timer. At this point, we have come to expect it, but if you think back, this is really the first season we have seen Matthews take one-timers. It was very awkward at first and his stance is a little strange even now, but he is beating goalies clean and it is dangerous. Last season, recorded him having 11 total slap shots on the season. This season, he’s already at 29. We sometimes forget, but he’s only 22 years old. What happens when he really gets comfortable with that shot in a few years? It could be scary. He already has 40 goals this season regardless.

4.  Kudos to the Leafs for trying it, I guess, but the Marner – Matthews – Nylander line was not particularly inspiring on this night. They didn’t score, they got scored on, and in general, they were largely outplayed. It looked like a line where nobody wanted to do the dirty work; they were more hopeful for odd-man rushes and tried to rely on their skill to take over. Meanwhile, Tavares played with much less skill and they just outworked the Coyotes, winning battles for turnovers and crashing the net, leading to two goals. If you’re of the mind that there should be a mulligan for this top line and the Leafs should try it again, it’s noteworthy that it was Nylander’s first game back from sickness and he looked it. On a power play in the third, they actually took him off the top unit. He had little jump in his legs tonight.

5.  Speaking of that John Tavares line – make it two more goals for Zach Hyman, who is in the midst of a career year and is going to flirt with shooting 20% for the season. He’s now at 16 goals on the season when his career-high is 21. He also missed the beginning of the season as he was recovering from surgery. His first was a classic Hyman goal as he went to the net and got a deflection. But the second goal showed his continue growth with his finish — he buried a one-timer in the slot and left no doubt in the process. He is an extremely important, versatile, and now productive player on this team. I can’t really say enough good things about him at this point; he just makes lines better with his work ethic.

6.  I mentioned in the Leafs Notebook this week that I would send Timothy Liljegren down if he’s going to play so little, so I wanted to clarify a little bit here given how the ice time ended up shaking out this game. Lilejgren played 9:45 on the night. With a defenceman playing that little, with Sandin also up and not playing a ton either, and the game going to overtime, here is how it shook out: Justin Holl played 24:55, Jake Muzzin played 23:26, Tyson Barrie played 23:50, and Travis Dermott played 21:30. I think Liljegren could and should play more. He is older than Sandin and does not appear fazed by the moment or that the Leafs are in a tight playoff race. I’d either play him more — closer to that 15-minute mark — or send him down. While he’s played in the AHL and done well there, it is better for him to play 25 minutes there a night compared to under 10 with the Leafs. Young players have to play. If they don’t trust him at all at this point, so be it.

7.  I have to note both of these (below) in the game review as John Tavares and Mitch Marner both experienced some discomfort, and Marner even left the bench for a bit. A few weeks ago, Tavares left the bench during the game. At times, he has really hobbled on the ice, looking like he might be hurt. I’d be surprised if he wasn’t at this point. This is worth monitoring.

8.  I couldn’t help but notice Phil Kessel on the second power-play unit tonight. If he has time and space, he’s still dangerous, but he’s clearly lost more than a step at this point. Unless he goes on a hot streak (which he is certainly capable of), he is going to put up fewer than 50 points. We all know he offers absolutely nothing on defence as well. When he left, the thought was that he’d fall off a cliff; instead, he was fantastic in Pittsburgh, where he won two Cups. But now he looks Dany Heatley during his Minnesota Wild years.

9.  That was a great game-winner for Kasperi Kapanen on his go-to breakaway move that we have seen a number of times over the last two seasons. After the game, the broadcast noted he was a player that needed a bounce back, but I want to note here that it was his fourth point in five games. I said this a few weeks back, but it’s worth repeating: While Kapanen isn’t necessarily taking a huge step forward this season (in particular, he has not looked good in the top six), he also has not been completely inept this season, which seems to be the story around him at times. This isn’t a lost season for Kapanen. He’s playing to a 47-point pace — slightly higher than last season — and he has had a revolving door of linemates while also bouncing between left-wing and right-wing. It would be nice for him to have a more solidified center on the third line, which is also where he should stay for the rest of the season.

10.  Three games in for Jack Campbell, he has been relatively solid. The goalie game is truly witchcraft, but it would be hard to picture the Leafs even getting four of the six points should Hutchinson have been in net. Really, that’s all you can ask of the GM in this situation – to give the team a chance to get points in a situation like this. This is a very encouraging start for Campbell on the whole, and while Andersen was on the ice in the morning, who honestly knows what his health situation is going to be moving forward for the rest of the season (or his quality of play for that matter)? Campbell has sparked some life here, for sure. The team genuinely swarmed him after the win.

It was really just a side note to the deal, but I’d be lying if I said I noticed Kyle Clifford on the night. When the trade happened, we noted that he would probably be better served with a linemate to wreak havoc with, and Pierre Engvall and Pontus Aberg are not it. Just a strange line combination.

Game Flow: 5v5 Shot Attempts

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Arizona Coyotes

Heat Map: 5v5 Shot Attempts

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Arizona Coyotes

Game Highlights: Leafs 3 vs. Coyotes 2 (OT)