First of all, we need to honor Patrick Marleau. We hadn’t done enough of that leading up to this game, and perhaps we paid for it in karma. Marleau played in his 1600th NHL game, and the 731st in a ROW - quite an ironman streak, to say the least. This author probably hasn’t watched as many games as he’s laced ‘em up for. Props to you, and good for your team to get a win for you on this milestone.
Less favorable, though, for those of us in ChowdaLand.
This game started wide open, with more than one golden chance for both teams in the first two minutes that all went wide. The first shot didn’t register on the scoresheet for a few more minutes. David Krejci, melding well with his primary-center role, playing good center defense and had wing support for the early going.
A weird collision between Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and Brad Marchand set off several minutes of struggle for Boston; the same “first line” (if you discount Krejci’s stretch shifts) that would eventually turn the puck over to Mitch Marner and allow the game’s first goal.
Scored with just over two minutes to play, the goal would hold into the first intermission. Kevan Miller missed a chunk of time at the end after taking a deflected John Tavares shot off throat.
Kevan Miller did not return. Toronto didn’t land a shot on goal until past the midway point of the period. Frederik Andersen stoned Jake DeBrusk with a flash of the glove.
Then, when it looked like Boston was really putting the Leafs on their heels, Mitch Marner was given all kinds of time and space behind Halak. His patience shone and defenseman Igor Ozhiganov scored his first goal in the NHL to put Toronto in front by one.
Igor Ozhiganov scores his first NHL goal, putting the Leafs up 2-1 pic.twitter.com/2OuLkmxOHF— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) November 27, 2018
David Pastrnak, not to be outscored, handled a nice shot-pass from Torey Krug and made minced meat out of Andersen to tie the game.
Sick feed from Torey Krug to set up David Pastrnak on the doorstep pic.twitter.com/N6mJEcEJeb— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) November 27, 2018
Anders Bjork took a ridiculously-avoidable tripping penalty, and JUST before the end of the kill, Toronto put together a great entry and passing sequence before a meaty rebound from Tyler Ennis’ shot bounced right to Josh Leivo. 3-2, Leafs, not long to go in the frame.
Tyler Ennis with a dangle and Josh Leivo cleans up the rebound to put the Leafs up 3-2 pic.twitter.com/N8yhpdtLF5— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) November 27, 2018
John Moore got thoroughly embarrassed by Tavares. Moore was lucky to have the opportunity to clear a loose puck after Tavares picked his pocket behind the net.
Jake DeBrusk did his best Bergie impression, stealing the puck from Tyler Ennis in the neutral zone and creating a scoring chance out of nothing. David Backes had a monster shift around the halfway point, helping to get a few chances on Andersen through sheer tenacity.
Over time, Boston’s desperation was too much of a gamble, giving the Leafs chance after chance on the counterattack. A late empty-net goal by Zach Hyman would ice this one for Toronto for a final score of 4-2.
- Halak was in the game early and often - by necessity, but still he showed his preparedness for a dogfight. It wasn’t his fault his team gave up the puck in the offensive zone a bit too much, or couldn’t close out a penalty kill with seconds to go.
- Jake DeBrusk, who has tried to bring tons of energy to every game over the last few weeks (see: Boston Herald feature), definitely showed it on the ice. Coach Cassidy has also banked on his energy providing offense, which is a tall task for the young forward. He finished hundredths of a minute behind Pastrnak for most time by a forward. (Marchand wasn’t far behind him for third.)
- In just his fifth NHL game, Connor Clifton led the entire game in ice time among skaters. Sure, that was forced by Kevan Miller’s injury, but still - to thrust a rookie into such demanding minutes is somewhat novel when that rookie is not Charlie McAvoy, PureBred. And that’s without any special teams time, too.
- Show. Us. Life. Signs. From. Our. Defensemen. And. Saviour.