Leafs Edged Out by Devils 3-2 in OT
You know those days where you're just too tired to be productive? The time when the gas tank is running on empty and you decide to just mail it in? Well, after the first period of last night's 3-2 overtime loss to the hands of the New Jersey Devils it seemed like the Leafs were having one of those moments. The Leafs were horrible in the first period generating no offense and having the rested Devils dominate them all period. This being the Leafs' second game in two nights and third game in four days, it looked like the Devils were going to blow the doors off of the tired Leafs. Being outshot 11-4 in the opening frame and down 2-0 while having barely entered the Devils zone, it seemed laughable to assume the Leafs would leave this game with point.
The Devils entered the game with the league's worst power play, yet managed to punish the Leafs for the two lazy penalties John Michael Liles and Tim Connolly took in the first period. Ilya Kovalchuk unloaded a bomb from the point to beat Leafs goalie James Reimer, followed by David Clarkson easily scoring when Carl Gunnarsson decided to go fishing instead of checking him.
Things however turned around after that intermission. I don't know, maybe the Leafs drank some Red Bulls or discovered that this Devils team is weak and there for the taking, but the Leafs came out and carried the play for the remainder of the game. Outshooting New Jersey 27-15 following the first period, the Leafs got a lucky bounce off of Phil Kessel's foot to get themselves back into the game. Kessel's goal was his league leading 17th of the season (tied with Jonathan Toews) and first in seven games.
While the Leafs attempted to equalize Reimer demonstrated his abilities to battle and keep the Leafs in the game. What has endeared Reimer to so many people is his abilities to put bad goals behind him while not allowing that back breaking goal. Reimer made some big saves as the Leafs battled back. His biggest though was when he stoned Clarkson on a breakaway with less than five minutes to go in a tie game.
Rookie Matt Frattin was the reason the game was tied as he scored a gorgeous goal that showed Leaf fans both his great speed and strength. Frattin's game has been really strong lately, and he is starting to get some results for his hard work.
The Leafs had a great chance to win the game late in regulation as the Devils were penalized with less than three minutes remaining in the third. However the Devils top ranked penalty kill managed to hold off the Leafs' 2nd ranked power play. Carl Gunnarsson continued his struggles over the last two weeks by fanning on a glorious chance in overtime and then failing to notice Clarkson for the second time in the game in front of his own net. Clarkson buried the wide open opportunity for his second of the game, and the Leafs were left wondering what if.
Men of the Match
Leafs: Matt Frattin - The freshman had a solid game skating all over the ice and creating havoc. Bumped up to play with Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin, Frattin seemed to energize both of those players in the third period. If that line can gel it will go a long way to helping the Leafs remain in playoff contention.
Devils: David Clarkson - The Toronto boy always seems to save his best for the blue and white. He now has three goals goals against the Leafs this season. Clarkson has always been rumoured to be a favourite of Brian Burke, and his sandpaper is a deficiency that the Leafs definitely lack.
Next Game: The Leafs head to Washington to take on the Capitals on Friday night.