Jerred Bapty
BarnBurner Sports Writer


Wednesday, February 5, 2020


NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK – Six seconds was all it took for the Toronto Maple Leafs to surrender their second straight loss. 


The Leafs broke down towards the of the 1st period when Mika Zibanejad snapped a wrist shot into the top left corner right off a Chris Kreider faceoff win. 


Off the ensuing draw at centre ice, Kreider blew by Justin Holl and tucked the puck past Hutchinson who barely moved to track the puck and suddenly New York had a 3-1 lead. 


Rangers’ netminder Igor Shesterkin was locked in from puck drop, pushing across to rob Auston Matthews early in the 1st period.


John Tavares opened the scoring just over seven and a half minutes in with his 20th of the season off a rebound gifted to him in the high slot. With no Ranger in sight, Tavares buried it past Shesterkin. The goal means Tavares has scored at least 20 or more goals in each of his 11 NHL seasons. 


Filip Chytil scored off a beautiful seam pass from Tony DeAngelo to tie the game just over a minute later. New York began to take over the game, forcing Toronto deep into their own end and causing turnovers to maintain possession of the puck. 


Maple Leafs Head Coach Sheldon Keefe seemed to light a fire under the Leafs, who came out fast again to start the 2nd period. Shesterkin continued to make brilliant saves, while the Rangers continued to contain the puck in the offensive zone. 


Matthews backhanded a shot from the slot centered to him by Andreas Johnsson from directly behind the net. Shesterkin was still looking over his shoulder, trying to find the puck when Matthews shoveled it through him. 


The Rangers came right back to regain their two-goal lead 34 seconds later. Kreider carried the puck into the offensive zone right around the net, pulling Hutchinson out of position. The Leaf netminder dropped his stick to recover as Matthews tried to kick the puck out of the corner to a teammate. It instead went right to Brady Skjei who tapped it to Pavel Buchnevich. He fired it right through Hutchinson. 


Hutchinson wasn’t set for the shot because Travis Dermott was trying to help him grab his stick and Hutchinson couldn’t grab it properly. New York held a 4-2 lead at the second intermission. 


After a somewhat uneventful 3rd, Pierre Engvall drew a hooking penalty on Greg McKegg and the Leafs made sure to capitalize. Matthews unleashed his lethal one-timer fed by Tavares to pull Toronto back to within one with about four minutes left. 


The Leafs continued to press with the net empty but, eventually, the former Maple Leaf McKegg was able to pot the empty-netter, his first goal in 32 games. 


A poor team effort costs Toronto another winnable game. Matthews was the best player offensively and defensively for the Maple Leafs. His two goals plus his creativity in the offensive zone, combined with his physicality and ability to cause turnovers, he played a noticeably complete game. 


In response to the loss, Kyle Dubas immediately went to work and acquired goaltender Jack Campbell and forward Kyle Clifford from the LA Kings in exchange for forward Trevor Moore, Columbus’ third round pick in 2020, and a conditional third round pick in 2021. 


The Maple Leafs head back to Scotiabank Arena to face the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night and then head to Montreal on Saturday.