Kicking off a home-and-home with the Islanders tonight, the Leafs needed to get back on the right track after a disappointing week saw them sandwich losses to division rivals Ottawa and Montreal around a win over a struggling Minnesota club. Coming into tonight’s game, the Buds were 1-4-0 in their last five while the Isles were riding a strong streak of play from last week’s NHL 3rd Star of the Week, Evgeni Nabokov, who’d won his last 3 starts. With the lines back to normal and Joffrey Lupul back with Phil Kessel, the Buds got things started early with another goal from Matthew Lombardi, who would score again to ice the game in the 3rd. With Kessel adding a goal of his own, the rest was up to the Monster, who turned in another solid performance to earn the win.
- Jonas Gustavsson continues his transformation into a solid netminder, which is impressive considering most of us had written him off after last season. He’s already got 3 shutouts this season, and has won 6 of 9 starts this month. Gus made 25 saves for the win tonight, and while it wasn’t exactly the most trying night, the few pushes that the Isles did make ended up going nowhere thanks to his play.
- Good to see Lupul and Kessel get back on the scoresheet. Earier in the shift, Lupul actually tried to set Tyler Bozak up on a similar play as the one Kessel scored on, and despite Bozak failing to convert, the speed of that line was shown pretty clearly as they made it back up and down the ice to put a nail in the Islanders’ coffin.
- Speaking of goals, welcome to the party, Mr. Lombardi – the speedster has 4 goals in his last 4 games and seems to be making much more of an impact.
- The Leafs stopped the league’s longest current scoring streak, as well, with John Tavares’ 12-game point streak coming to an end.
- I didn’t have many complaints tonight. I thought the Leafs played a solid physical game, which is a big reason why they were so successful.
- If we’re nitpicking, there were a couple shifts, mainly in the 3rd, where the typical bane of Toronto’s success reared its ugly head. The consistent inability to get pucks out of the zone is something I’ve never truly understood, especially considering the size and strength of most of the Leafs’ blueliners.