By Stan Smith
The Toronto Maple Leafs took their 15-game point streak into Madison Square Gardens on Tuesday night. Now they get to start a new one.
Michael Bunting scored a goal in the first period that tied the game at one. The goal was Bunting’s third in as many games and extended his point streak to ten games. In those ten games, Bunting has a total of 12 points and is plus 14 in plus/minus over that span.
Conor Timmins assisted on Bunting’s goal. The assist was his fourth in his last two games and gives him five points in the seven games he has played for the Maple Leafs.
Despite losing the contest, the Maple Leafs played a sound defensive game. They only gave up two goals prior to pulling Matt Murray in an effort to tie the score late in the game. According to Naturalstattrick.com at five-on-five, the Maple Leafs allowed the Rangers just three High-Danger Scoring Chances in the game while creating 12 of their own.
The Maple Leafs played only produced one goal offensively. A team is not going to win many games only scoring one goal.
While Bunting continued his streak, every other streak the Maple Leafs had going came to an end. The team’s 15-game point streak ended. Mitch Marner’s 23-game point streak ended. Matt Murray’s nine-game streak without a regulation loss also ended.
Timothy Liljegren left the game early in the second period with what Sheldon Keefe stated was an upper-body injury. Keefe went on to say that Lilejgren would be further evaluated on Wednesday.
Madison Square Gardens has always been known for having terrible ice. Whether or not it was because of the ice or not, the Maple Leafs struggled throughout the game to complete the simplest of passes. A number of pass attempts either came up short or went in a direction that was completely different from the intended direction.
On the game report produced by the NHL, I added up the giveaways by the Maple Leafs (28) and the takeaways by the Rangers (14) and the total was an astounding 42 times that the puck went directly from a Maple Leafs’ player’s stick to a Rangers.
Related: Three Maple Leafs Takeaways from the 3-1 Loss to the Rangers
Despite the team point streak ending, the Maple Leafs still boast a record of 4-1-1 in the month of December and are 8-1-1 in their last ten games.
They travel to Washington to take on the Capitals on Saturday night.
The Caps are presently one point out of a wild-card spot with a record of 15-13-4. They lost 2-1 to the Dallas Stars on Thursday night. That loss ended a five-game winning streak for the Capitals.
The ageless Alex Ovechkin keeps scoring goals. He has 20 goals in 32 games on the season. Ovechkin scored a hattrick against the Chicago Blackhawks earlier this week to give him 800 goals in his career. His next goal will tie Gordie Howe for the second most in the history of the NHL. He needs 84 goals to catch Wayne Gretzky.