The Colorado Avalanche rolled into town on a nine-game winning streak, so we knew it wasn’t going to be an easy one. Actually, the game was a lot of fun, up until the losing part.
Morgan Rielly was placed on IR earlier today, and Rinat Valiev was called up, but he did not play tonight. The expectation is that Rielly will be back after the All-Star break (and it’s certainly the hope). While it’s great to see the young guys getting more ice time, you can tell the Leafs are missing Mo on the back end.
Too bad Corsis don’t decide hockey games…
The first 2:20 of this game was a pretty good indicator of things to come. First, a great chance for Auston Matthews is denied by Jonathan Bernier. A minute and twenty seconds later, Colorado’s fourth line dumps the puck and then somehow creates a goal. Leafs’ fourth line is on the ice. (This will be relevant later.)
Thanks to William Nylander’s increasing skill at drawing penalties, Soderberg went to the box, and then the Leafs got a five-on-three power play, and then after that they didn’t touch the puck for a while. The Avs didn’t get a whole lot of shots off during that time, but they kept the Leafs hemmed in their own zone enough to make it hurt.
The Leafs were able to end the period on a high note, though, with a shot from Travis Dermott very nearly making it past Bernier, and overall impressive stuff from the Matthews line (because of course).
This time, the Leafs’ early scoring chance turned into an actual goal. Patrick Marleau used his amazing Dad Speed to get out ahead of the defence and there was no stopping him. (This was also Leo Komarov’s second assist in as many games, a significant step up from the rest of the season.)
Auston Matthews definitely should have had the go-ahead goal slightly earlier than he actually did, after sneaking behind Bernier (who had no clue where the puck was) and tapping it in, and then getting hug-tackled by Zach Hyman.
That line is still really good okay, as Auston Matthews reminded us againon their very next shift. And we even got the celly of the year out of it.
If anyone on Colorado had to tie it up, at least it was Nail Yakupov. I’m genuinely glad he’s doing well again. In the future, if he could do well against not-the-Leafs, that would be great. Not that I didn’t kinda see it coming, but this game was Stressful.
Obviously not perfect, but this period was super fun. Let’s do it again sometime.
….Not this time, I guess. After such an exciting second period, I didn’t have much to say about this one…until I did.
Blake Comeau got position on Matthews and put the Avalanche up 3-2. (Does this mean Auston Matthews is getting moved to the fourth line?)
The Leafs kept the pressure on after going down a goal, but they couldn’t quite make anything happen. In the last few minutes, Mitch Marner was even bumped up to play with Kadri and Marleau (because Babcock actually realized Komarov might not help them score??).
Colorado had several chances at the empty net after Andersen went to the bench with under three minutes left, but Gabriel Landeskog finally got one on target, and that’s all she wrote, Leafs lose 4-2.
This was the tenth game in a row in which the Avs scored first and won, and their 23rd game this season. To put that in perspective, they only won 22 games last year. I haven’t had a chance to watch the Avs much but wow they are really reaching their potential these days. Remember last year, when we were all like “but why are they so bad, they have MacKinnon and Landeskog and those guys aren’t BAD?” Still can’t answer that question, but at least we aren’t asking it anymore. We get it, Colorado, you’re good, you don’t have to win ten in a row to prove it. (Really, we would have preferred you did not.)
- Hi, I’m Hayley, and I like seeing Connor Carrick and Travis Dermott on the ice together.
- The Leafs made it official today: no Mo until after the break. 🙁
- The Avalanche unfortunately extended their win streak to ten games, but Nate MacKinnon didn’t get a point, so there’s that.
- Other things that are probably cool if you’re an Avs fan: Ten games is the second-longest streak in franchise history, Jonathan Bernier’s nine wins in a row is his career best, and that makes him the third Quebec/Colorado goalie to hit at least nine.
- The fourth line matchup here did not come out in the Leafs’ favour. Like, at all. Colorado’s first goal was scored with both fourth lines on the ice. (Their second was also against Martin-Gautheir-Marner.) The Avs fourth line combined for eight shots on goal; Mitch Marner had all two for the Leafs’ fourth line. James Mirtle shared Leafs’ lines possession numbers after two periods… “Matthews 74% Kadri 45% Bozak 64% Goat 18%”. Not a good look.
Tonight’s celebrity guests at the ACC included tennis star Denis Shapovalov, Nick Kypreos, and Apple CEO Tim Cook. Leafs Twitter was very concerned with Tim Cook’s presence.