The Maple Leafs fell to the Avalanche 4-3 in Colorado. Sure, they didn’t get the victory and there are some obvious reasons why. But they did manage to steal a point in the dying minutes of regulation time.
High Emotions at the Start
Coming off a forgettable game in Phoenix, the Leafs were looking for a hot start. But things got ugly, early. 31 seconds into the game Nick Holden opened the scoring, when the Leafs were caught scrambling in their own zone. Shortly after that, Daniel Winnik fell awkwardly in what looked more horrifying than it actually was for the Leafs forward. A goal scored early and your teammate being carried off on a stretcher, that’s a whole lot of adversity off the start. Still, the Leafs managed to compartmentalize things and get back to hockey. Phil Kessel managed to respond with a goal before the first period came to a close.
Bernier Excels. Shootout Rusty
Had it not been for Jonathan Bernier’s stellar play in the opening period, we could have been talking about a game where the Leafs were blown out of the water. Bernier made 18 saves in the opening 20 minutes and had other highlight reel saves, including a second period glove save off Colorado’s Jamie McGinn. This was the Leafs first game this season where a shootout was required. You could’t blame Bernier for being a little rusty, but he let goals on all three Colorado attempts. Bernier was ranked 67th out of 76 active goalies in shootout save percentage at .585. He dropped to 70th after letting in all three attempts tonight.
Beating the Best PK
Tyler Bozak scored in the second period to give the Leafs their only lead of the hockey game. That was impressive given Colorado’s league-best 93% penalty-kill proficiency. The goal also snapped Colorado’s penalty-kill streak at 29. It was the fifth time this season the Leafs managed to score at least one tally on the power-play while going perfect with the man-disadvantage.
With the Leafs short on bodies due to injuries to Winnik and Jake Gardiner, the Leafs had to tinker with their player combinations throughout the game. It also meant the fourth line was on the ice for a very critical moment. That’s when Richard Panik scored his second goal of the season with just over one minute left in regulation time. With this performance, we may see the fourth line get some more responsibility, given they showed they can produce in high-pressure situations.
The Maple Leafs have played 13 games this season and their highest shot totals in a game have come against the Colorado Avalanche (40 and 38).