Leafs Shoot Down the Jets 4-3
After the first two periods of tonight's Leafs - Jets game it seemed like many fans were watching a replay of the old Leafs from the past four seasons. The Jets jumped out to a 3-1 lead after two periods, prompting the fans at the ACC to boo the buds off the ice heading to the second intermission. The Leafs defense was unable to deal with the Jets speed and fore-checking pressure, causing Luke Schenn and Mike Komisarek to take unnecessary penalties, which of course the Leafs couldn't kill off (a familiar story to Leaf fans).
Tobias Enstrom opened the scoring on a power play in the first period by somehow guiding a blast through six different players, before it beat a helpless James Reimer. Joffrey Lupul tied the game off of a wonderful assist by Phil Kessel. Kessel and Lupul were the only two forwards creating any offense through the first two periods tonight, and were unlucky to not have buried more opportunities.T Those two wingers have been the Leafs best forwards this season, they were great tonight. Alexander Burmistrov and Mark Scheifele, again on the power play (his first NHL goal) scored to give the Jets a two goal lead heading into the third. Similar to the Avs game on Monday the Leafs were unable to string together consecutive passes, and thus the offense was MIA.
Yet the Leafs from the past four seasons decided to stay in the dressing room for the third period, and the current team that has been remarkably improved emerged for the third. The Leafs capitalized on two consecutive power plays midway through the third and ended up tying the game with goals 27 seconds apart. Of course none other than Lupul (his fourth on the year and second of the night) and Kessel (his league leading seventh) were the marksmen. On those power plays Ron Wilson replaced Tyler Bozak with Dave Steckel and the team never looked back. Forced to make some adjustments because of injury (both Colby Armstrong and Clarke MacArthur left the game) and poor play (Komisarek and Schenn did not see the ice in the third frame), Ron Wilson relied on the players that were performing to get the job done. Jake Gardiner was wonderful on the night, and with the tools he provides the Leafs he cannot be removed from the lineup. Gardiner played 25:09 tonight.
After an entertaining third period and overtime the Leafs received goals from Lupul and Matt Frattin in the shootout, while Reimer stopped both shots he faced. Many people may think that Reimer had an off night, but he made some big stops on the night to keep the Leafs in this game, while his defense completely abandoned him on the second and third goals. As for the Enstrom goal, if anybody wants to criticize Reimer for that please inform me of what you thought he could do in the comment section below.
Armstrong injured his leg early in the first period, and was seen on crutches later in the evening. Early impression is that it's a severe injury, yet Nick Kypreos tweeted that the injury is not serious and Armstrong will undergo an MRI Thursday. Nazem Kadri is expected to be recalled in time for tomorrow's game in Boston.
Men of the Match
Leafs: Phil Kessel - With two goals and an assist, the Leaf sniper is playing his best hockey in a blue and white sweater. His speed is creating havoc for the opposition and he finally has a partner on his line that he feels comfortable passing the puck to. Kessel has demonstrated this season that he is not only a sniper, but a great playmaker as well.
Jets: Tobias Enstrom - He scored the first goal with a seeing eye blast from the point, but his defensive play was strong all night. Physical for his size, he was constantly able to separate Leaf forwards from the puck, and is one of the premier offensive defenseman in the league.
The Leafs head to Boston tomorrow to take on the Stanley Cup Champions in their first road game of the season.