Lack of endurance costs Leafs their first loss

Eduardo Harari
BarnBurner Sports Writer


Sunday, October 6, 2019

TORONTO. - It was a night that many in the Leafs Nation will remember. The classic battle turned out to be an electrifying display of perseverance by the rivals from Quebec.

Who would have thought that with 13 minutes to play in the 3rd period of what looked to be a decisive win for the home team would suddenly turn into a magical fairytale turnaround for the Montreal Canadiens. At the end of 3 periods, an overtime period and a shoot out, the game was lost 6-5. 

The game started with a quick goal by the son of the never forgotten Leafs inforcer Tye Domi. With 1 minute and 8 seconds into the game, Gallagher sent the Canadiens on a break that ended with Max Domi going to the net and redirecting a pass from Artturi Lehkonen.

It looked like the beginning a long night for the Leafs coming from  long night on Friday evening in Columbus but  Auston Matthews had other plans and on a well orchestrated pass from Morgan Rielly, Matthews uncorks a lethal slap shot that evades Carey Price for the equalizer. 

The game continued in a sigsaw battle of defensive fortitude until on a slow clearing the puck from behind the net by Nick Suzuki gave Trevor Moore the opportunity to wrestle the puck away from him and set up Adam Kerfoot, for his first goal of the season. 

It took only 1 minute and 39 seconds before Kerfoot and Moore would unite again to surprise Carey Price in the second period and give the Leafs a 3 - 1 commanding lead. 

The game moved on to the third period with no major issues when Kerfoot now starts a tremendous run and finding Tyson Barrie in the slot who quickly moved it around to Nylander for the score and putting Toronto up by 3,  4 - 1.

The Canadiens responded back with two goals of their own by Jonathan Drouin and Brendan Gallagher, which brought the Canadiens to within a goal at 4-3. 

What happend subsequently is something that as I mentioned prior Leaf Nation will talk about it for a while. The Canadiens were on a power play when Kapanen broke his stick while blocking Petry’s shot from the blue line. Petry recovered the puck and was awarded the penalty shot after Kapenen threw the broken shaft in his direction which tied the game at 4. 

“I’ve never seen anything like that,” Petry said afterwards.

Not whistanding the fatal mistake, Montreal goes on the offensive again and takes a 5 - 4 lead on a Philip Danault backhander with 4:40 to go in the period. 

Matthews showed why he is considered one of the best in the NHL when he tied the game at 5 with 1:05 left which send the game into overtime. It was Matthews’ fifth goal of the season and his 12th against the Canadiens.

It started with the first shot Price faced in overtime — a wrister from 11 feet out on a breakaway from Mitch Marner. 

Then it was Maple Leafs captain John Tavares with a backhand on the breakaway.

“He pulled it across and just tried to elevate it and I think he was a little bit under pressure, so he didn’t get up as high as he wanted to and I was able to glove it down,” said Price about the save he came up with.

And with six second left in overtime, Tavares broke in again, swept the puck from his backhand to his forehand and Price stuffed him with the top side of his right pad.

Under the new rules the game then proceeds to a three shot shootout which should have put the home team at an advantage but once gain Price played his trump card.

It was Matthews, who got the first crack at Price in the shootout. He was denied by the goaltender’s left pad.

Marner got shut down next. And then Tavares had a chance to tie things up and came down slowly towards Price’s net and tried to out-wait him, but was ultimately undone.

“Everybody’s so good at slowing the pace down and slowing it down,” Price said. “But you just try to be patient and get a good read on it.”

Leafs head coach Mike Babcock was not the very pleased with the performance and mentioned "I didn’t think we skated very good all night, to be honest with you — right from the start to the finish. I thought we were obviously in a good spot. We weren’t real crisp. Just the way I look at it is we had three games in four nights and we knew going in it was going to be a grind. We got five out of six points."

On Kasperi Kapanen’s boneheaded play to throw his stick, leading to the penalty shot goal by Jeff Petry:

I’ve never seen it, by anybody ever. I am sure he feels bad and would like to have it back. The thing about it is you can’t get it back. We’ve all got to learn from it. Lessons are important during the year, and we got one.

I’ll talk to him, but I am not talking to him now. He’s going to have enough people talking to him. He’ll probably get the message pretty good, I’d imagine.