If there is a positive to take from the Maple Leafs 5-4 loss at the hands of the New York Rangers, it’s the play of Morgan Rielly
, who is starting to come into his own in the NHL.
The sophomore defenceman had his first multi-goal game in the NHL. His first goal came on the power play late in the first period. Rielly’s second tally cut the two-goal lead down to one in the third frame.
Although the effort level was questioned as a whole by interim coach Peter Horachek, Rielly’s play stood out, much like it has the last several games.
“Mo has definitely got his confidence going right now,” said defenceman Cody Franson. “He’s up and down on a lot of plays and jumping in a lot of chances. He’s shooting the puck a lot more which is great to see. He’s one of those guys that has so much skill, that sometimes he tried to make the real impressive play. Right now he’s keeping it simple and he’s playing extremely well.”
The Maple Leafs had a spirited third period.
Having not won a game when trailing by two goals this season, the Leafs had a third period they could be happy with had it not been for the end result.
Managing just 16 shots on goal and 30 attempts at the net through 40 minutes, the Leafs met that entire production in the third frame with 18 shots on goal and 29 attempts.
Ice-time was limited from top players. The first 40 minutes were not good and it cost them a win.
“In the third period, we gave ourselves a chance to get a point and get something in it and we gave it back again. We didn’t deserve (to win) tonight,” said Horachek. “In the third period we got excited and started playing, but that’s not how to win games.”
James Reimer held the Leafs in it during the Rangers early onslaught, making 15 difficult saves. It was clear the Rangers had their legs under them, trying to get the game decided early.
“It was one of those nights where I was good, but just not good enough,” said Reimer. “Obviously that fourth goal was a fluky goal and that’s not one you want to give up, overall I thought I was making some big saves. When push comes to shove, five goals is too much.”
The Leafs schedule doesn’t get any easier, as they hit the road to take on a pair of teams with high octane offences in the Islanders and Canadiens.
Notes: Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak both registered season lows in ice-time with 12:57 and 14:12 respectively. The move was a clear sign from Horachek that he wasn’t happy with his team’s effort. Stephane Robidas scored his first goal as a Maple Leaf. It’s been quite the road for Robidas to get to this point, recovering from a broken leg in the off season while finding his fit with the team. Cody Franson picked up his 26th assist. That puts him in a tie for tenth in helpers from a defenceman.