For the second week in a row, the Toronto Maple Leafs faced off against the Carolina Hurricanes in a challenging matchup. And, once again, the Maple Leafs lost by a single goal in a game that carried with it the kind of intensity that they will be certain to see during the postseason.

Despite a strong effort, the Maple Leafs trailed early in the game because the Hurricanes scored on their second shot on the goal. The Hurricanes also scored on a fluke goal that bounced off Jake McCabe and into the net. It was after that point an uphill battle akin to overtime for goalie Joseph Woll. Fortunately, he was up to the task. Unfortunately, the Maple Leafs could only score a single goal. And, that just wasn’t enough to complete the comeback.

Related: Matthews Cares More About Winning than Scoring 70 Goals

There Were Positives to the Game, Despite the Loss

The Maple Leafs had been scoring regularly, just not last night. Heading into the game, the Maple Leafs goalies had received good goal support. They had been averaging five goals per game over their last four games. However, last night’s loss showed an uncharacteristic lack of offensive production that could not be overcome.

All that said, there were positives to take away from the game. A loss is a loss, but good news is also good news. The Hurricanes are an elite NHL team. Despite not boasting elite goal scorers, they excel in moving the puck from side to side, creating scoring opportunities with their fluid passing. This poses challenges for any defence; and, it did for the Maple Leafs.

Joseph Woll, Maple Leafs goalie

The positive for the Maple Leafs was the play of goalie Joseph Woll. He showed remarkable agility despite recently returning from his high ankle sprain. He was the player of the game for the Maple Leafs.

Special Team’s Play Held the Maple Leafs Back

Special teams once again emerged as a critical factor in the game. The Maple Leafs’ power play unit struggled to capitalize on opportunities. Specifically, they failed to convert on crucial power plays late in the game; and, that failure proved costly. This surprising lack of success on special teams mirrored previous games, highlighting an area for improvement as the postseason approaches.

The game was played with a playoff-like intensity. Despite a sluggish start, characterized by turnovers and defensive lapses, the Maple Leafs battled hard and came back – at least part way. Although they created scoring chances and tested Carolina goaltender Frederik Andersen, they could only get a goal from Nick Robertson. They could not score a second goal to tie the game.

Looking Ahead the Team Needs to Improve Their Special Teams

Looking ahead, the Maple Leafs must address their special team’s play. They’re not scoring as much as they should – given the team’s elite players – on the power play. Additionally, their penalty-kill woes are costing them games.

With the postseason approaching quickly, every aspect of their team play needs to be scrutinized. There are adjustments to be made if the team is to compete well during the postseason. Yet, despite the loss, there were encouraging signs. For now, that’s good to remember.

Related: The Good, Bad & Ugly in Maple Leafs 6-3 Win Over the Oilers

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