Toronto Maple Leafs Finally Score a Power-Play Goal

Jake Muzzin,Toronto Maple Leafs (Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports)
Jake Muzzin,Toronto Maple Leafs (Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Calgary Flames 5-3 to stay comfortably on top of the North Division.

The Toronto Maple Leafs went 4-0 on this road trip and now have the best road record in the league, at 14-4-1.  Very impressive, especially considering the power-play woes and injury concerns at the goaltending position.  This train just keeps chugging along.

This was a pretty entertaining game.  Shots were even, chances were even, the Flames won the face-off battle, and the Leafs won the special teams battle.  Wait…what?

Yup, the Leafs scored a PP goal.  A real one.  I saw it with my own eyes.  And that moment, basically 60 seconds of the game which I will spend most of this article talking about, summed up exactly why this team has a chance to be great.

Toronto Maple Leafs  Power-Play

It’s in the 3rd period and the Leafs have a 3-2 lead.  There’s basically 10 minutes left in the game.  Nikita Nesterov takes a slashing penalty and the Leafs go on the PP.  26 seconds into the man advantage, the Leafs turn the puck over in the offensive zone and the Flames rush down the ice.  Mikael Backlund scores a shorty to tie the game 3-3.  Oh boy…this is bad.

At this point it’s just getting ridiculous right?  The Toronto Maple Leafs PP was 0-28 and just gave up a short-handed goal in the 3rd period to erase a lead in a crucial road game.  Just when it couldn’t possibly get worse, it got worse.

Then Sheldon Keefe calls a timeout.  There was sill 94 seconds left on the PP and although nobody else believed in them, Keefe obviously did.  He sent the same 5 guys back on the ice with a chance to get that moment back.

With all the pressure of a broken power-play and the pain of surrendering a short-handed goal just seconds earlier, Austin Matthews scores the redeemer.  It was basically a net crash and a rebound, and #34 comes up huge to get the monkey off the team’s back, and to take back the lost momentum in the game.

To give you an idea how crazy this is, March 9th was the last time the Leafs scored a PP goal.  That’s almost an entire calendar month between goals.

Not only was this the most crucial moment in this game, but it may turn out to be the most crucial moment in the season.  Credit Keefe with knowing his team and settling down the bench, and credit Austin Matthews for really coming through under a crazy amount of adversity.  I jumped up, yelled, and woke up half my house.  It was worth it.

With the momentum, Tavares scores 80 seconds later to make it 5-3, and the Leafs never look back.  Game.  Set.  Match.

Interesting notes from the game

Jason Spezza scored his 350th goal to move into sole possession of 100th place on the all-time points list.  That’s roughly 7000 skaters.  The guy is still producing at an elite rate and it’s just so much fun to watch him play.  Probably the best FA acquisition of the Dubas era so far.

Jack Campbell improves to 9-0 on the season, ties Leafs record with 9 straight victories.  The most amazing part of this run for Campbell is summed up perfectly in this tweet by Chris Johnston:

His last loss was on March 6th, 2020.  Campbell began his run of consecutive wins on January 16th this year.  He’s played through injuries the whole time.  That’s just nuts.  It makes what he is doing even more amazing.

The Flames really targeted Jake Muzzin in this game.  They ran him a lot, and he took a significant pounding from Flames forwards.  Muzzin is so crucial to this team that he just cannot get injured.  Does Dubas need to bring in a player to up the physicality of this team?  I lay out this debate in a prior article here, and I believe that he does.  If you can put a target on the enemy, sometimes they take the target off of you.

Next. The Big List of Leafs Trade Options. dark

Bring on the Canadiens Wednesday!

Go Leafs.