After going 4-0 and posting regulation wins over Montreal and Boston last week, it was probably fair to expect that this week would be a bit less exciting by comparison for the Toronto Maple Leafs. In action for three road games against Phoenix, Colorado, and Dallas, the Leafs would look to continue their winning streak and their relative success against Western Conference opposition.
At the Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Arizona the Leafs took on the Phoenix Coyotes, who were sporting their own two-game mini win streak. The first period action was fast-paced, with the teams combining for 25 shots.
Jake Gardiner and Phil Kessel both scored for Toronto while Jonathan Bernier stood tall in net, conceding no goals. Phoenix stepped up the pressure for the second period, outshooting the Leafs 15-6. However, the Leafs would be the only team to register a goal in the period, this time from Carl Gunnarsson, who scored at the goalmouth for his first of the year.
Phoenix continued to apply pressure into the third period, where they’d outshoot the Leafs 14-9. Their efforts were finally rewarded with two special-teams goals, one with the man advantage courtesy of Mike Ribeiro and the other a shorthanded one-timer from Antoine Vermette. Nazem Kadri also scored on the power play to end his 11-game goal drought for a final score of 4-2.
The Leafs had another fast start against the Colorado Avalanche with James van Riemsdyk and Kessel scoring goals. In the second period, the Leafs took just five minutes to double their lead with Gardiner scoring and Kessel getting his second of the night.
The Leafs slowed down a bit after making it 4-0. Nathan MacKinnon roofed a chance after receiving a P.A. Parenteau pass on a two-on-one before the period came to a close. MacKinnon struck again just minutes into the third period, this time capitalizing on a horrendous Jake Gardiner mistake when he confused Maxime Talbot for one of his teammates, giving him a nice spinorama pass at the blue line. Colorado went on to outshoot the Leafs 17-7 in the period but Toronto would hold on as Jay McClement iced the game with an empty-net goal before the clock wound down to make it 5-2.
Two nights later, the Leafs attempted to extend their winning streak to seven games and the Dallas Stars tried to turn their form around, going into the game 1-9-1 in their last 11. Jamie Benn sent a laser beam past Bernier to open the scoring in the first but just 30 seconds later Nikolai Kulemin evened things up for Toronto.
From that point on it was all Dallas. Cody Eakin scored to give Dallas the lead going into the first intermission. Dallas stormed out of the locker room in the second period, scoring four unanswered goals. James Reimer relieved Bernier after the first goal of the stanza but it would not help, as Reimer surrendered three goals on 10 shots. Dallas scored once more in the third period to make it a 7-1 game, then coasted their way to victory.
The Leafs are attempting to rebound tonight against the high-flying Winnipeg Jets, who have won four of five games since head coach Paul Maurice replaced Claude Noel. Maurice, of course, coached the Leafs for two seasons, missing the playoffs both years. Make sure to check out our full preview.