Big, big win for the boys in blue tonight. Struggling all week after a couple of tough losses, the Leafs came in with 7 players injured and a starting goalie that hadn’t won since November 2nd. Obviously, the Caps aren’t playing their best hockey at the moment, but the way the Leafs played for most of the night, they would have done alright against just about anyone tonight. I don’t know what Ron Wilson said to the team before the game, but for once they came out fired up and it certainly proved favorable. Then again, maybe they just didn’t want Brian Burke getting chirped on his first day as a member of the Twitter universe.
- Welcome back to life, Tim Connolly. Playing just his 8th game of the season, Connolly had the game’s first goal, a beauty of a wrist shot that beat Tomas Vokoun to the far post, and added his 4th assist of the year. With all the injuries, he’s going to need to keep contributing.
- What a game from the first line, as Tyler Bozak had what I thought was one of his best games to date. Bozak, Joffrey Lupul and Phil Kessel all had goals, and combined for 8 points. Kessel remains in the league lead with 27 points and 14 goals, while Lupul is now tied for 3rd among NHL point scorers with 24.
- Marching down the depth chart, Joe Colborne had a good night anchoring that 3rd line and setting up Matt Frattin for a beautiful first career NHL goal.
- Speaking of firsts, Cody Franson had his first goal as a Leaf, and (like I said he would) did it on the powerplay. That is one hell of a shot he’s got there, and if the Leafs start clicking on the powerplay, especially with the way they draw penalties with their speed, they could be very scary to play against.
- At the risk of jinxing it, the special teams have been pretty damn good lately. Both units were on fire tonight, with the Leafs getting 3 powerplay goals on 5 opportunities and killing off all 5 of their own penalties. Toronto has now killed off 18 of their last 20 penalties.
- Jonas Gustavsson sure gave us all a scare when he let in that first one (which was a tough bounce off a couple of sticks), but he turned it around and ended up having one of the best games of his career. He finished with 40 saves, a career high, and raised his save percentage to within striking distance of the .900s. Should be interesting to see if Wilson rides the hot keeper into Carolina tomorrow night or goes with Ben Scrivens.
- Finally, David Steckel with the icing on the cake at the end of the game, scoring a shorthanded goal on his old team and giving the Leafs as many goals tonight as Alexander Ovechkin has all season.
- It’s rare that I don’t have to pick out too many bad things, so I’m going to take advantage of that fact tonight. The Leafs did give up 40 shots, but alot of those came when the Caps were playing for pride in the final period, and Gustavsson and the penalty killers both were up to the task.
- The only thing I didn’t get to see tonight that I was hoping for once the rout was on? Nikolai Kulemin break out of his scoring slump. He’s coming up on a month without a goal now, if my memory is correct, having scored his last goal against Montreal on the 22nd. Let’s hope he finds his scoring touch again on this upcoming road trip.
- The Leafs’ top line looked dominant all night, but never more so than on the 4th goal, which was a real backbreaker for the Caps and sent Vokoun to the showers early.
Topics: Alexander Ovechkin, Cody Franson, Dave Steckel, Joe Colborne, Joffrey Lupul, Jonas Gustavsson, Matt Frattin, Nikolai Kulemin, Phil Kessel, Tim Connolly, Tomas Vokoun, Toronto Maple Leafs, Tyler Bozak, Washington Capitals