Toronto Maple Leafs: Auston Matthew’s O.T Heroics Squeak Out Win

CALGARY, AB - JANUARY 24: Jack Campbell #36 of the Toronto Maple Leafs in action against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on January 24, 2021 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
CALGARY, AB - JANUARY 24: Jack Campbell #36 of the Toronto Maple Leafs in action against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on January 24, 2021 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Ottawa Senators in overtime last night.

This was a game of bounces.  In the end, Matthews negated a 3 on 1 in OT by kicking out his leg to deflect a pass, then taking the puck around the Ottawa defense and driving the net, where Marner eventually found Justin Holl wide open in the slot.  He buried it, and the Toronto Maple Leafs claimed a much needed 2 points with a 3-2 win.

 Jack Campbell moves to 5-0 on the season as the Leafs win a close game on the road against the always feisty Senators.

The win gives the Leafs a 4-3 edge over Ottawa in the season series.

Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators

If you ever needed proof that the games the Senators play against the Leafs are the next best thing to a Stanley Cup, take a look at Pierre Dorian after Holl’s goal in OT last night;

The provincial rivalry is strong in this one, and even though Ottawa isn’t very good this year, it still feels good to beat them.  The Ottawa Senators love to play Toronto.  And, credit going to them and the coaching staff, they absolutely hate to lose to the Leafs.  They play the Leafs tough, real tough, and these games matter.  This game was a dog fight.

The Leafs really out-chanced the Sens in the first period, and just as I was admiring the domination, Jack Campbell botches a play to handle the puck behind the net while on the powerplay.  The puck goes right to Connor Brown.  Of course it was Connor Brown.  He buries a shorty and it’s 1-0 Sens.

Tavares skates over to Campbell after the play and says something like “we’ll get that back.”  Good on the captain to comfort Campbell there, because, let’s face it, Campbell is all we have right now.

And in the first few minutes of the 2nd period, Campbell was needed, and Campbell delivered.  JT knew exactly what he was doing.  The Senators took it to the Leafs at the start of the second and Campbell made several quality saves to keep the game at 0-1.

Eventually Mikheyev would tie it up. How many chances has Mikhevev had to score this year?  I lost count games ago.  His speed and tenacity create opportunities for him and his teammates on a nightly basis.  He’s rightly criticized for not being able to finish most of these opportunities, so, when this happens, I just thank the hockey gods and smile.  It’s about time.  1-1.

Full credit to T.J Brodie on the play.   He’s the guy that drives the middle of the ice and deflects Hyman’s pass off the crossbar.  You know what else he did?  He started the whole sequence with a great play to exit the zone, then he jumps up to create the 3 on 2, then Mikheyev gets his gift from the gods.  Thank you Brodie.

Late in the 2nd period the shot attempts were 49-25 for the Leafs.  You really need to give Anton Forsberg some credit here for keeping it a 1-1 game.  The Leafs were controlling most of the play.

Late in the period, Rielly cross-checks Tkachuk in front and gets called for the penalty.  This is important because on the ensuing PK, Campbell absolutely stones Tkachuck with 48 seconds left in the period to keep it tied at 1.  Huge save.

The Sens started strong in the 2nd but the Leafs took control late.  It ended up being a pretty even period.

The Leafs deserve some serious credit for the way they started the 3rd.  The Sens didn’t get their first shot on net until 10 minutes in.  And then, Jason Spezza with the rocket!  The Leafs take a 2-1 lead.  This was the third straight game in which Spezza scored a goal, and he hasn’t done that since the 2016 playoffs.  Vintage is at it again.

Just when it looked like the Leafs were going to wrap this game up, a crazy bounce jumps right toward the slot on a dump in, and Campbell sort of had to play it.  He left the crease to knock the puck to the corner, but he botched it with some awkward puck handling, and it went right to Alex Formenton.  He buries it and the game is tied at 2.

It’s hard to blame Campbell for a couple of awkward bounces where he mishandled the puck, since that’s not necessarily his job, but both mistakes did result in goals.  Other than that, he was really good in the game.  Maybe stay in the net there Soupy.

OT was…well…OT.  They skated around and around until something amazing happened.  That amazing thing was Austin Matthews breaking up a 3 on 1 with his leg, and then he skated around the Sens defense and took the puck to the net.  Marner then found Holl for a wide-open wrister to get the extra point.

The division is getting crowded at the top.  The Leafs needed these points.

A few interesting notes from the game

The Leafs powerplay, which was 1-17 in the last 8 games, still struggled in this one as they went 0-3 and gave up a short handed goal.  This is something the team needs to sort out, and quickly.

The PK looked good.  I know the Sens PP has struggled all year, but I’ll take any improvement on the PK that I can get, and I don’t care about context at this point.

Matthews dropped Chabot in the 3rd period behind the Sens net.  This was the first time I have seen Matthews initiate hard contact in weeks.  His wrist is feeling better?  I hope so, because he was absolutely dominant when he was healthy, and he’s capable of being dominant down the stretch as well.

The Sens won 63% of the draws tonight.  This is unusual.  The Leafs, and Tavares specifically, are usually very good in this area.  Tavares won 20% and Matthews 40%.  Matthews has struggled in this area since his injury.  Winning the face-off is an important part of the game for the Leafs because they value puck possession so much.  This is something to keep an eye on moving forward.

Alex Galchenyuk looked pretty decent to me.  I watched him all game and took notes on his play, nothing special, but he seemed to do what he was supposed to do.  He also skated well and fore-checked well.  Maybe we have a player here?  I hope so.

Next. Leafs Trade Deadline Primer. dark

The team seemed to battle hard to get the goals back that Campbell was responsible for.  Would they do that for Andersen?  Is that too dramatic?  I guess we’ll find out down the stretch as both goalies should get an opportunity to perform.

Bring on the Oilers Saturday.  Hockey night in Canada baby!