What. A. Game. The Toronto Maple Leafs sure didn’t make it easy on this Monday night, but they pick up a crucial two points in their first game since the all star break.
With this win, the Toronto Maple Leafs have won six straight since that dud against the Rangers three weeks ago.
This felt like playoff hockey. Both teams played fast and physical with very little room to breathe with the puck. Both Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner had a pair of goals tonight, and Petr Mrazek looked very solid in net tonight against his former team.
The Leafs looked pretty rusty through the first two periods, but the third period was very well played by just about everyone on the roster.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Carolina Hurricanes
It seems that Marner was not cooled off by the all star break as he potted both the game tying and game winning goal. Him doing this in a game that felt a lot like playoff hockey seems like a good sign, but I will leave it at that. (stats naturalstattrick.com).
Unfortunately, the win came at a high cost – Auston Matthews, who know has 24 goals in his last 23 games, was hit accidently in the head and had to leave the game to enter concussion protocol. As of now there is no update.
Matthews was down for an extended period of time after this hit, which was clearly unintentional. Obviously, there is no need to go into what Matthews means to the Leafs. Here’s hoping he doesn’t miss any time.
Overall, I’m very encouraged by what this team showed tonight against one of the best teams in the league. They didn’t have the best game, but they stuck with it and were rewarded by an excellent third period. They responded well to being down on the scoreboard and Mrazek wasn’t tested with an excess of high-danger opportunities.
We very well might’ve just watched a preview to the Eastern Conference Finals. After each team has played 43 games, Carolina, who sit second in the NHL by points-percentage, have one extra win, and the Leafs, who are fourth, have one extra loss. If Carolina were to win their game-in-hand over first place Colorado, the Hurricanes would only be behind them by one-loser point. The Panthers sit third. The top of the NHL standings are extremely close.
The Toronto Maple Leafs play again on Thursday against Calgary to start a three game road trip out West.