It may not have been the playoffs, but that was an enormous victory for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
In a game that included a bunch of shots ringing off the iron, shots being blocked by throats and heads, a first NHL goal, a games played milestone and Brad Marchand being booed every time he touched the puck, the Toronto Maple Leafs (17-8-0) picked up a huge win. Frederik Andersen stopped 38 of 40 shots and the Maple Leafs took down the Boston Bruins (13-7-4) 4-2 on Monday night at Scotiabank Arena.
It was a fun game in what is becoming one of the NHL’s prominent rivalries. While they were out shot 40-31, the Maple Leafs were able to hold down their lead in the third period to pick up their fifth straight win at home and two critical points in the Atlantic Division title race.
As a hockey fan, I would appreciate if every Maple Leafs game was like this one, because while it wasn’t a high scoring shootout or six-goal blowout, it was the kind of hockey game most fans would appreciate.
If there’s one thing this game had in droves, it was pucks going off the crossbar and goal post. Less than a minute in, David Backes is wide open in front…skims the puck off the top of the crossbar! Nazem Kadri on a breakaway pass from Travis Dermott…backhands the puck off the goal post! Colby Cave wide open with the puck in the slot…cue the loudest goal post ring I’ve heard all year! Marchand with a wide open shooting lane on the power play…goal post again!
This continued in the third period, when Danton Heinen put a wrist shot on net which pinged off the post, fooling players on the ice and folks in the crowd thinking the puck found its way to the back of the net. The constant ringing of posts and crossbars added an element of unpredictability and drama that always has a welcome place in hockey.
Injuries, Blocked Shots and First Goals
A scary moment occurred late in the first period, as Kevan Miller took a John Tavares wrist shot to the throat, prompting him to be taken to a hospital in Toronto. Miller is said to have swelling around his neck and was held overnight in the hospital to monitor his breathing. It’s a good thing that Miller appears to be ok, but the injury came in just a week after returning from a broken wrist, so he may not feel that lucky. Diito Jake DeBrusk, who took a shot to the back of the head in the second period.
Getting to the Toronto Maple Leafs, congratulations to Igor Ozhiganov, who scored his first NHL goal last night off a feed from Mitch Marner to put the Leafs up 2-1. Congrats are also in order for Patrick Marleau, who played in his 1,600th regular season NHL game, becoming the 11th player to reach the milestone. He also recorded his 603rd career assist, sending a pass to Tyler Ennis who made a nifty move to get the puck to Josh Leivo who put the Leafs up 3-2 on the power play. All of this was set up by Marner who streaked into the offensive zone. And props to Travis Dermott, who scored his first of the year thanks to a great pass from Marner.
Mitch Marner…That is All
Calm down Luke! I’m getting there!
In case you couldn’t tell, Mitch Marner had himself a night at the Bruins’ expense. He had three assists, his 11th multi-point game of the season, and his 33 points have him in a tie with Connor McDavid for third in the NHL. His 27 assists are also one behind Mikko Rantanen for the league lead in assists as well.
Marner now has 14 points in his last ten games and his hot start is making it very difficult to predict how much he is going to earn with his new contract next summer. At his current pace Marner is going to hit 100 points by the end of the year, making it likely he is going to get a much higher pay increase than we may have been expecting going into the season.
Now Enjoy the Night Off
These two points have the Toronto Maple Leafs tied with the Buffalo Sabres for second in the Atlantic and one point back of the Tampa Bay Lightning for first. The win also puts the Leafs four points clear of the Bruins and seven ahead of the Montreal Canadiens. Now the Leafs get the night off before the San Jose Sharks come to Scotiabank Arena on Wednesday night. A game against a California team that won’t end past midnight? It’s an early Christmas Miracle!