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Maple Leafs blow lead late, lose in overtime – Pension Plan Puppets

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So that didn’t end the way we thought it would.

After a very positive game from the Maple Leafs through two periods, they found themselves ahead by a goal after John Tavares scored his 23rd of the season in his 800th career NHL game. But then, the Habs filled the Leafs with a dozen shots to end regulation, getting one goal and sending the game to overtime. Once there, a Tyson Barrie turnover gave the Habs a breakaway, which Ilya Kovalchuk converted on.

Jack Campbell made 29 saves in a really strong effort, he just didn’t get any support in the third period and overtime. When the game counted.

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First Period

Auston Matthews was really strong to start the game. Almost despite his linemates, he was able to power through the Habs defense and get a couple really good chances for himself. Both Johnsson and Marner seemed to look really uncomfortable with the puck. They didn’t seem able to settle the puck down and create some space for themselves with their feet or body positioning.

Even defensively, Matthews intercepted a couple key passes in the top of the zone, getting the puck out very efficiently. Contrast that to Jake Muzzin giving the puck away within the first minutes after a really weak pass from along the wall to the middle of the blueline in his own zone.

I loved this pass from Timothy Liljegren.

Okay, so I was waiting for more to happen in that period, but apart from Muzzin headlocking Max Domi, it wasn’t very action-packed. It was a good period that I think the Leafs were able to build on.

One performance that I liked in particular was that of Liljegren. I found it funny that people wrote him off as a third pair guy last year, because right now he looks really solid. Poised with the puck, quick in a straight line, and really talented with his stick. He had a moment in his own zone when he tripped himself up, but he was able to get the puck out quite cleanly. He made that pass in the clip above that was really creative. And on the defensive end, his poise to retrieve loose pucks and push them up the ice in a safe way really stood out to me.

After One

This was a good first period from the Leafs, who out-shot the Habs 18-12 in terms of shot attempts. The two sides were tied in shots (7-7) and scoring chances (5-5). The Leafs got a couple good chances, but this wasn’t a period where they should’ve scored a couple times but failed to capitalize.

Second Period

Rasmus Sandin drew a slashing penalty on Jonathan Drouin, giving the Leafs a power play early in the second. The power play wasn’t that great; Tyson Barrie smashed a puck off the hand of Artturi Lehkonen and Matthews broke his stick on a slap shot. The second unit didn’t do much either.

The Habs came back after killing the penalty, forcing Jack Campbell to make a couple good saves in tight. As the game ebbed and flowed, the Leafs found their feet again and earned some sustained pressure in the Habs zone, forcing a couple icings and a good chance from John Tavares.

And as you’d expect after a power play, the refs gave Travis Dermott a pretty weak tripping penalty. The penalty killers were really good, starting with Marner and Zach Hyman wasting time in the offensive zone, then Pierre Engvall and Kasperi Kapanen forcing the puck to the corners of the point. Sandin and Muzzin each had a pretty important block, the latter of which seemed to sting Muzzin.

Dermott came out of the box and had the puck in the neutral zone while the Habs were changing. He passed to the limping Muzzin and ran off. I thought that was an incredibly dumb play, especially considering Dermott had the time and space to skate to Muzzin’s spot and let him get off. Instead, Muzzin couldn’t get the puck clear and had to defend for another minute, blocking another shot in his own zone.

After Two

You know your offense is bad when you make the Leafs defense look good. That’s what the Habs did in the second. They were on the power play for two minutes and 5v5 for 14. They only managed four shots throughout the entire frame. Meanwhile, the Leafs took two shots on their two power plays, and 14 in the whole period.

Shot share was 24-9 in the period, approximately 73%. Expected goals was also heavily in Toronto’s favour as they took a mountain of shots right in front of the net. Matthews, Tavares, and Jason Spezza each had two high-danger shot attempts after two periods.

Third Period

1-0

And for his 757th point in 800 games, John Tavares opened the scoring for the Leafs with an amazing shot from the faceoff dot, fed to him by Alex Kerfoot after Zach Hyman got them in the zone. Tavares now has 23 goals this season, including five in his past four games.

It was a really nice play that directly followed a strong save from Campbell. He made a right pad save, kicking the rebound right to his own guy for a quick breakout. The differential in manpower really gave the Leafs the edge at the other end of the ice. Tavares was not close to being covered when he took his shot.

The majority of the period after that consisted of the Habs in the Leafs zone looking for chances to score. Their best one came on the power play when Campbell had to make a toe save on Ilya Kovalchuk after coming across to his post to stop the one-timer. The Leafs did a great job to weather the storm and came out of it with the lead, despite giving up 11 straight shots.

1-1

With 2:33 left in the third, Marco Scandella took a point shot that squeaked through the five hole of Campbell, ruining the shutout and the lead. The Leafs didn’t take a single shot between the Tavares goal and this one, and it took them a couple shifts after this goal to get their offensive feet moving again.

After Three

This is my only takeaway. MY ONLY ONE!

Overtime

1-2

Goal. Barrie runs himself deep without any support (HE WAS BASICALLY NEXT TO MARNER) and Nick Suzuki gets a breakaway. He gets poke checked, but Kovalchuk pots home the rebound.

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The free agent market is sizzling, who’s left for the Blue Jays?

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With MLB’s 2022 Winter Meetings in San Diego this week, the number of free agent signings has reached a frenzied pace. As of this writing, 44 free agents have already signed deals worth a combined $1.9 billion so far this offseason, headlined by monster deals for Yankees OF and AL MVP Aaron Judge (nine years, $360 million), new Phillies SS Trea Turner (11 years, $300 million), and new Texas ace Jacob deGrom (five years, $185 million). That figure doesn’t include the reported five-year, $90 million guaranteed deal that Japanese star OF Masataka Yoshida apparently agreed to on Wednesday. The average free agent contract so far has been for 2.4 years and $44 million total value.

The Toronto Blue Jays have so far been unlucky in their free agent pursuits, highlighted by starter Kyle Gibson passing up the same one-year, $10 million offer made by Toronto to sign instead with the Baltimore Orioles. The Jays have also been mentioned in relation to starters Justin Verlander, Andrew Heaney and Jameson Taillon, as well as reliever Kenley Jansen and CF Cody Bellinger, who have all signed with other teams. All of their other AL East peers have been active this week signing and trading for players.

The need for a power-hitting left-handed bat to balance out the Jays lineup has been clearly defined as necessary to improve this club’s postseason chances following the Teoscar Hernández trade last month. A number of LHH OFs have agreed to deals already, including the above mentioned Masataka Yoshida, Joc Pederson, who accepted the San Francisco Giants $19.65 million qualifying offer (QO), and Cody Bellinger, who signed a one year, $17.5 million deal with the Chicago Cubs.

Remaining LHH free agent options in CF include Brandon Nimmo and Kevin Kiermaier. Should the Jays decide to keep George Springer in CF instead of moving him to right to reduce the wear and tear on his body, they could also look at left-handed hitters Joey Gallo or Michael Conforto in RF. Trading Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in a package for starting pitching or a CF like the switch-hitting Bryan Reynolds or Dalton Varsho might make sense if they were were able to sign one of Michael Brantley or Andrew Benintendi for LF, But those trades would both be costly in terms of the likely drain on an already bottom third ranked farm system.

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Further, with the St. Louis Cardinals signing free agent catcher Willson Contreras to a five year, $87.5 million contract, it appears less likely that the Cards might be a trade destination for one of the Blue Jays three catchers. One of Danny Jansen, Alejandro Kirk or Gabriel Moreno in a deal for switch-hitting OF Dylan Carlson or LHH RF Lars Nootbaar looked good on paper, but now seems less likely.

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Marner and Matthews stay hot, Samsonov earns shutout as Maple Leafs beat Kings

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Mitch Marner extended his franchise-record point streak to 21 games with a second-period goal as the Toronto Maple Leafs earned a 5-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday.

With Toronto in front 3-0, thanks to goals from Pierre Engvall, David Kampf and William Nylander just 1:06 apart earlier in the second, Marner checked in with a slapshot marker after a Kings turnover inside their blue line.

The Maple Leafs (17-5-6) won for the seventh time in eight outings and handed Los Angeles (14-11-4) its seventh loss in 10 games.

With Canadian pop star Justin Bieber among the 18,567 at Scotiabank Arena, Marner scored his 11th of the season. He has 10 goals and 16 assists in his 21-game point streak.

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Marner’s streak is now tied for 23rd all-time in the NHL with Dave Taylor, Adam Oates and Bobby Hull.

Marner also became the 10th different player in the past 35 years to string together a point streak of 21 or more games and the third active skater, behind Patrick Kane (26 games in 2015-16) and Sidney Crosby (25 games in 2010-11).

Well-rounded team effort leads Maple Leafs to second straight shutout win

Toronto goaltender Ilya Samsonov made 29 saves for his first shutout in a Maple Leafs sweater and the seventh of his career.

The Maple Leafs outshot their opponents 41-29.

Kings netminder Jonathan Quick, who made 36 saves, kept his club in the game for the opening 25 minutes.

The Maple Leafs had outshot the visitors 19-7 when Engvall beat Quick with a wrist shot for a power-play goal 5:10 into the second period.

Twenty-six seconds later, Kampf employed linemate Alex Kerfoot as a decoy to score on a two-on-one rush started by Kerfoot to provide the Maple Leafs with a two-goal advantage.

Nylander checked in with his 15th of the season, and fifth in seven games, on a breakaway goal 40 seconds later. He also set up Auston Matthews for his 14th goal midway through the final period.

Maple Leafs tally three goals in 66 seconds to jump ahead vs. Kings

Kerfoot was good for two assists against the Kings.

Engvall’s night ended early in the third period when he was given a match penalty for intent to injure after he high-sticked Kings defenceman Sean Durzi, a former Toronto draft pick, in the back of the head in the neutral zone.

During the ensuing five-minute power-play, Los Angeles winger Adrian Kempe scored but the goal was rescinded after a video review determined the play was offside.

Maple Leafs’ Engvall receives match penalty for slashing Kings’ Durzi up high

BRODIE’S BACK

Maple Leafs defenceman T.J. Brodie returned to the lineup after a 12-game absence because of an oblique injury, playing alongside newcomer Conor Timmins. Toronto went 9-0-3 without Brodie.

 

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Marner and Matthews stay hot, Samsonov earns shutout as Maple Leafs beat Kings

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Mitch Marner extended his franchise-record point streak to 21 games with a second-period goal as the Toronto Maple Leafs earned a 5-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday.

With Toronto in front 3-0, thanks to goals from Pierre Engvall, David Kampf and William Nylander just 1:06 apart earlier in the second, Marner checked in with a slapshot marker after a Kings turnover inside their blue line.

Gotta See It: Maple Leafs’ Marner scores to extend point streak to 21 games

The Maple Leafs (17-5-6) won for the seventh time in eight outings and handed Los Angeles (14-11-4) its seventh loss in 10 games.

With Canadian pop star Justin Bieber among the 18,567 at Scotiabank Arena, Marner scored his 11th of the season. He has 10 goals and 16 assists in his 21-game point streak.

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Marner’s streak is now tied for 23rd all-time in the NHL with Dave Taylor, Adam Oates and Bobby Hull.

Marner also became the 10th different player in the past 35 years to string together a point streak of 21 or more games and the third active skater, behind Patrick Kane (26 games in 2015-16) and Sidney Crosby (25 games in 2010-11).

Toronto goaltender Ilya Samsonov made 29 saves for his first shutout in a Maple Leafs sweater and the seventh of his career.

The Maple Leafs outshot their opponents 41-29.

Kings netminder Jonathan Quick, who made 36 saves, kept his club in the game for the opening 25 minutes.

The Maple Leafs had outshot the visitors 19-7 when Engvall beat Quick with a wrist shot for a power-play goal 5:10 into the second period.

Twenty-six seconds later, Kampf employed linemate Alex Kerfoot as a decoy to score on a two-on-one rush started by Kerfoot to provide the Maple Leafs with a two-goal advantage.

Nylander checked in with his 15th of the season, and fifth in seven games, on a breakaway goal 40 seconds later. He also set up Auston Matthews for his 14th goal midway through the final period.

Kerfoot was good for two assists against the Kings.

Engvall’s night ended early in the third period when he was given a match penalty for intent to injure after he high-sticked Kings defenceman Sean Durzi, a former Toronto draft pick, in the back of the head in the neutral zone.

During the ensuing five-minute power-play, Los Angeles winger Adrian Kempe scored but the goal was rescinded after a video review determined the play was offside.

BRODIE’S BACK

Maple Leafs defenceman T.J. Brodie returned to the lineup after a 12-game absence because of an oblique injury, playing alongside newcomer Conor Timmins. Toronto went 9-0-3 without Brodie.

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