By Stan Smith
There were several Good, Bad, and Ugly takeaways in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 6-5 overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday Night.
The Maple Leafs were down 2-0, 3-1, 4-2, and 5-3 in this game but fought their way back to earn a 5-5 tie in regulation to earn a point.
The Pierre Engvall, Alex Kerfoot, and David Kampf line opened the scoring for the Maple Leafs.
The first line of Auston Matthews, William Nylander, and Michael Bunting handled all the scoring for the Maple Leafs from that point on. Those three players totalled eight points in the game. Bunting led the way with two goals and one assist. Nylander had one goal and two assists. Matthews chipped in with a goal and an assist and became the fastest Maple Leafs’ player in franchise history to score 500 points, doing so in 445 games.
Bunting has four goals and five points in his last two games. After scoring just two goals and six points in his first 16 games Bunting now has 11 goals and 12 assists for a total of 23 points in his last 22 games. He is now on pace to finish with 28 goals, 34 assists, and 62 points this season. That is five more goals but one point less than the 23 goals and 63 points he had in his rookie season.
Nylander’s three points give him a team-high 22 goals and 45 points this season. In the same 22 games in which Bunting has 23 points, Nylander has scored 16 goals and added 14 assists for a total of 30 points. Nylander is now on pace to score 47 goals and 97 points in the 2021/22 season.
While it is good news that the Maple Leafs came back from four two-goal deficits in the game, it is bad news they went down by two goals four times in the game.
After giving up 66 goals in their first 28 games, an average of 2.35 goals per game, they have now given up 34 goals in their last 10 games, an average of 3.4 goals per game. Both their good defensive play and their good goaltending have faded in the past ten games.
After playing just over 135 minutes without giving up a goal and shutting out both the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks in back-to-back games, Ilya Samsonov has since had 17 goals scored against him in just under 248 minutes of play.
After posting a league-leading 1.70 goals against average and .939% save percentage in his first 11 games, Samsonov has come crashing down to earth with a 4.12 goals against average and a .850% save percentage in four games since.
There were a series of events that happened early in the second period that caught my attention.
In order, they were:
1: Calle Janrkrok circles behind the Blues’ net. Justin Faulk grabs Jarnkrok’s shoulder not once, but three times. No call
2: John Tavares accidentally high-sticks Nick Leddy in front of the St. Louis net. It is called (which it should have been).
3: On the ensuing power play there is a scramble in front of the Maple Leafs’ net. Kerfoot goes to play the puck and he is hooked by Brayden Schenn. No Call. Jordan Kyrou grabs the puck from right in front of Kerfoot and scores.
4: On the next shift Dryden Hunt is sent all alone on a breakaway. He gets slashed on the hands by Robert Bortuzzo. No Call.
That is three penalty calls missed on St. Louis to one call made on Toronto in less than two minutes.
At just past the four-minute mark of the second period, Matthews trips Ivan Barbashev behind the Maple Leafs’ net (no call). Rasmus Sandin, in his first game back since suffering a neck injury on December 20th, looks like he was preparing to throw a hit on Barbashev. Instead, he trips over the fallen Barbashev and goes face-first into the boards.
Sandin left the game, but luckily returned later in the period and was able to finish the game. Sandin was also a full participant in practice the following day.
Maple Leafs’ play-by-play radio announcer stated following this game that the St. Louis Blues are 14-1-1 in Toronto in their last 16 visits.
The Maple Leafs take on the Seattle Kraken at home on Thursday night. The Kraken are having an excellent sophomore season. They are presently third in the Pacific Division with a 20-12-4 record.
This is a second game of an extended seven-game road trip for the Kraken. Seattle won its first game on the trip, 5-2 over the Edmonton Oilers, and has won two in a row after losing their previous three games.
It is the first meeting between the Maple Leafs and the Kraken this season, as the Maple Leafs did not visit Seattle on their western road trip back in October. Toronto won both meetings against the Kraken last season, 6-2 and 6-4.
If the practice lines from Wednesday were any indication it appears the Maple Leafs will be going with the same lineup that lost to the Blues. Nylander’s place in the roster was taken by Wayne Simmonds. Sheldon Keefe stated that Nylander was dealing with something minor but was expected to play. Keefe did not name a starting goalie for the game.