Leafs Fend Off Ducks in Dramatic OT Win
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Saturday, February 8, 2020
Campbell Wins in Leafs Debut
The Toronto Maple Leafs, fighting for a playoff spot, gave up a two goal third period lead but rallied to defeat the Anaheim Ducks 5-4 in overtime at Scotiabank Arena Friday night. John Tavares scored the game winner with just 6.2 seconds left in the extra frame, redirecting a perfect pass from forward Mitch Marner past Ducks goaltender Ryan Miller and sending Leafs Nation home happy.
The game marked the debut of Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell and forward Kyle Clifford acquired earlier in the week from the Los Angeles Kings. Missing from the Leafs lineup was centre William Nylander, forced to sit this one out due to illness.
With Anaheim on the second of back to back games the Leafs looked to jump on the Ducks early. They did just that, striking at 4:36 of the opening period. Defenseman Rasmus Sandin chipped the puck along the side boards at centre ice past Ducks defenseman Josh Manson and springing Austin Matthews into the Ducks zone on a three on two scoring chance. Matthews quickly relayed the puck to Mitch Marner in the slot who found Andreas Johnsson for a one timer from inside the faceoff circle that rocketed past Miller.
The Ducks responded, taking advantage of the Leafs inability to gain control in their defensive zone. Adam Henrique pounced on a loose puck and fed defenseman Cam Fowler who spotted Nicolas DesLauriers inside the right faceoff circle. Deslauriers buried a one timer past Campbell to tie the score 1-1 at 10:36.
The Leafs had a chance to regain the lead, getting a two man advantage with just over four minutes remaining after Ducks forward Derek Grant rifled a shot into the netting behind Campbell earning a two minute delay of game penalty while the Ducks were already shorthanded. But the Leafs failed to capitalize, and the Ducks escaped the first period with the game tied 1-1.
The Ducks again found themselves shorthanded early in the second period and the Leafs took advantage. Forward Zach Hyman outfought defenseman Jacob Larsson behind the Ducks net, pushing the puck along the backboards to Matthews who found Tavares alone in front. The captain made no mistake, firing the puck past Miller to give the blue and white a 2-1 lead. The Leafs speed at times was dominant during the period, with Marner, Matthews and Tavares buzzing around the Ducks goal only to be stymied by the veteran Miller. The trio broke through however at the 13:18 mark on a three-on-one break, Marner feeding Tavares who set up Matthews for a one timer to give the Leafs a two goal edge. It was Matthews’s 40th of the season, tying a career high.
Kyle Clifford made his presence felt, squaring off with Ducks veteran Ryan Getzlaf in a brief scrum, each earning a roughing penalty. The grit was appreciated by the Leafs faithful who cheered the rugged winger all the way to the penalty box.
The Leafs took a 3-1 lead into the final period and looked to put the game out of reach just three minutes in when forward Pierre Engvall broke in alone on Miller. Miller stopped Engvall as well as Dmytro Timashov’s rebound attempt, a flurry that seemed to give the Ducks life. Max Jones scored a shorthanded goal, taking advantage of a Leaf turnover in the neutral zone and just over four minutes later on the power play Henrique, at the side of the Leafs net, batted a rebound out of mid-air past Campbell to tie the game 3-3.
The Leafs however fought back to regain the lead. Veteran forward Jason Spezza burst down the right wing faked a slap shot to pull Miller out of position then beat the Anaheim netminder from a sharp angle to give the Leafs a 4-3 edge with just 3:27 left. But with Ryan pulled for an extra attacker Fowler’s shot from the point was stopped by Campbell only to have Derek Grant slide the rebound under the Leaf netminder to send the game into overtime.
The Leafs dominated to start the overtime period but Miller made two outstanding saves on Tavares and Justin Holl. But with 1:04 left Anaheim’s Rickard Rakell tripped Marner, giving the Leafs the power play and setting the stage for Tavares’ dramatic game-winner.
Campbell made 26 saves for the Leafs to earn the victory. Miller kicked out 30 shots in taking the loss. Austin Matthews had a four point night with a goal and three assists, Tavares finished with two goals and an assist and Marner three helpers to lead the Leafs. Henrique had a goal and an assist to top Anaheim.
With the win Toronto moves one point ahead of the Florida Panthers in third place in the Atlantic Division. Florida however has two games in hand. The Leafs are right back at it Saturday night when they host the Montreal Canadiens.