Last night, ironically, the Toronto Maple Leafs might have played their best first period of the season AND their worst game of the season both on the same night. The result was a disappointing 6-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils at Scotiabank Arena.

Interestingly, the Maple Leafs opened the game playing lights-out hockey. The team dominated the first period with a barrage of shots on Devils’ goalie Jake Allen. Yet, when the horn sounded to end the period, the Maple Leafs found themselves trailing the Devils by a score of 2-1. The Devils capitalized on the Maple Leafs’ large number of defensive lapses and costly mistakes.

Auston Matthews RC

The only two bits of good news were that Auston Matthews scored his NHL-leading 59th goal and William Nylander continued his scoring with his 40th goal of the season. Otherwise, the Maple Leafs couldn’t overcome their lack of discipline and defensive gaffs.

Related: Kyle Clifford: Maple Leafs Forgotten Man

Too Many Bad Things Happened to Allow the Maple Leafs to Win

The Maple Leafs’ defeat can be attributed to several key factors. First, defensive errors plagued the team throughout the game, allowing the Devils to capitalize on their fewer scoring opportunities.

Second, a lack of discipline and composure further hindered the Maple Leafs’ performance. Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe made that very clear after the game. As he noted, his team lacked maturity and leadership on the ice.

Last, goalie Joseph Woll struggled to contain the Devils’ offence. As good as he was against the Hurricanes in his last start, he wasn’t that strong last night. He gave up five goals on 24 shots.

Speaking specifically about Woll, he struggled to stop the Devils’ offensive onslaught. New Jersey mainly scored on rushes; and, a few simply got past Woll. In the end, he yielded five goals.

Joseph Woll, Maple Leafs goalie

His play highlighted the uncertainty surrounding the Maple Leafs’ goaltending situation heading into the playoffs. With the postseason coming in a month, Toronto must address its goaltending situation if the team is to bolster its chances of success.

Keefe Was Even More Animated than Usual

This season, fans have seen a different side of head coach Keefe. He’s been more animated and willing to be critical. Last night, following the disappointing loss, he admonished his team for its immature play and lack of focus. He was right and called a spade a spade. Even even called out captain John Tavares, which doesn’t happen often. It was that frustrating a game for the coaching staff.

As the Maple Leafs strive to secure a playoff berth, they must fix their defensive deficiencies and maintain discipline in the season’s remaining games. With critical matchups on the horizon, Toronto’s ability to rebound from adversity will be a key to its postseason aspirations.

Related: Hurricanes Triumph Over Maple Leafs 2-1 in Playoff-Like Game

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