After a great game against the Chicago Blackhawks, it was a play that looked like it came from the horrible game against the St. Louis Blues that sunk the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 3-1 loss in tonight’s game.
The game can be explained quite simply. Each period belonged to a team. Unfortunately for the Leafs, the first and third belonged to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Chris Conner got the Penguins off to a real fast start, tipping in a Brian Dumoulin point shot only 39 seconds into the game. The Leafs might have gotten their chances in the first, but were not able to take advantage of any of them.
The bright spot of this game for the Leafs came at the 6:03 point of the second period when Morgan Rielly finally scored his first NHL goal. It might just be one goal, but with his play as of late, it looks like the color of the Maple Leaf that Rielly will be wearing on Boxing Day will be blue, not red.
The third period was bad for the Leafs on two fronts. First, Jerry D’Amigo was lost to an apparent shoulder injury. That will hurt the Leafs as he looked to be developing into a solid shutdown player.
Then the best player in the NHL reared his head. In a play that was made against the Leafs twice in the game against the Blues, the Leafs allowed a pass from Pascal Dupuis from behind the net to a somehow wide open Sidney Crosby, who quickly deposited the puck in the net.
The most disappointing thing about the game was how it ended. The Leafs pulled Jonathan Bernier with just over a minute left when Nazem Kadri drew a Chris Kunitz tripping penalty in the Penguins zone. That gave the Leafs a 6 on 4 advantage.
However, the Leafs could do absolutely nothing with a two-man advantage for the final 1:05 of the game. Brandon Sutter hammered the final nail in the Leafs coffin by putting the puck in the empty net.
The good news is that the Leafs tough start to the month of December is over. The Leafs next two games are against the Florida Panthers and Phoenix Coyotes, not the most intimidating opponents after the opponents the Leafs have faced this month. After that we get a preview of the Winter Classic as the Leafs face the Detroit Red Wings next Saturday.
Hopefully, the second half of the month will be better than the first.