Same old story, better ending.
The Leafs brought down the shooting Dallas Stars last night, coming up with a 3-2 overtime win, led by a dominant Jonathan Bernier, who stopped all but two of the 50 shots aimed his way. Nazem Kadri came up big on the top line, potting two goals in regulation. The winning tally, a nifty deflection off the stick Trevor Smith, coming in the final minute of overtime.
The Leafs played a similar game to their last against San Jose, minus one godawful first period. Despite the lopsided shot count, the Leafs looked solid for much of the game, avoiding multi-minute spells without possession and doing a good job to keep the game flowing, letting them use their skating to generate chances.
The game was scoreless through the first, both sides taking it to the other in terms of physicality. Captains Jamie Benn and Dion Phaneuf dropped the gloves, but were given roughing minors as linesmen stopped the fight before it got going.
Newly appointed number one centre Nazem Kadri broke the deadlock early in the second, the top line capitalizing on an injury to Trevor Daley which left the Stars shorthanded, their fallen defenseman far removed from play.
Erik Cole responded a period later, firing home a Shawn Horcoff pass. Kadri tipped home his second on the power play just minutes after, Phil Kessel acquiring his second assist on the play. Shawn Horcoff scored with under three minutes left, making up for a waved off high stick goal of his earlier in the period.
The game remained tied going into overtime, where Trevor Smith deflected home a Jake Gardiner feed to win the game.
Jerry D’Amigo made his first NHL appearance, playing on the team’s fourth line and looking solid in an energy role. He had one shot on goal.
The teams combined for 78 hits, both captains having five of their own. Kari Lehtonen allowed three of 20 shots. The three stars of the game were Bernier, Smith, and Kadri.
The Leafs resume their schedule tomorrow night in Ottawa, taking on the Senators at 7 in what looks to be a spirited clash.