Leafs v. Capitals Post-Game: Lucky Number 3
Three goals in three minutes and three seconds in the third period. Yes, the Toronto Maple Leafs actually came back from a two-goal deficit after two periods to gain a point in the standings.
Let's get right to it with some thoughts on the game:
- Although most of my hair was pulled out in frustration, the Leafs displayed a lot of heart tonight and they deserve credit. It's hard to remember the last time the Leafs came back from a two-goal deficit in the third period, but it's encouraging they managed without captain Dion Phaneuf.
- Kudos to Nikolai Kulemin on the game's first goal. Instead of shooting under pressure he opted to hold on to the puck, position himself for a quality scoring opportunity and take advantage of Micheal Neuvirth's poor positioning.
- Luke Schenn continues to solidify his reputation as a defensive stalwart on the Leafs' blueline. What he lacks in offensive ability, he has in delivering menacing hits. Entering his third campaign at 21 years old, there's no longer an intimidation factor, as evidenced by his 42 hits, second among NHL defensemen.
- Kris Versteeg had his ups and downs tonight. He caused the third goal against with a careless pass in the neutral zone but came back in the third period with a breakaway goal. Wilson's experiment to play Versteeg on the point on the powerplay was intriguing, but it failed miserably. Versteeg couldn't CAPitalize (HA, get it?... sorry) on his scoring chances, and he had plenty of time and space. I won't lie, before he scored a goal I thought a trip to the press box might be in order to light a fire under the Stanley Cup champion. Currently riding a two-game point-streak, perhaps Versteeg is slowly coming around.
- Tomas Kaberle had a great third period, displaying the offensive talent that once made him one of the league's top offensive defensemen. The first forty minutes were an entirely different story, however, as his defensive shortcomings were apparent. Had he sustained pressure on Boyd Gordon as he entered the Leafs' zone, the second goal could have been avoided. Although Mikhail Grabovski did absolutely nothing to disrupt Jason Chimera from scoring the goal in front of the net (he literally didn't even touch him).
- Although the Leafs' struggles is familiar territory for its fans, the goaltending is one aspect that has vastly improved. Jonas Gustavsson robbed Nicklas Backstrom on a two-on-one and displayed poise between the pipes that he sometimes lacked as a rookie last season. He controlled rebounds effectively, which is usually his weakness, and didn't overplay the puck against the Capitals' high-octane offense. Despite allowing four goals, he's the sole reason the Capitals didn't run over the Leafs in the second period.
- The Capitals tied the game at 4-4 on a bogus penalty. Just sayin'.
- What a game for Mike Komisarek. He logged 25 minutes and 41 seconds of ice-time, recorded two assists and a +1 rating. He deserves credit for stepping up in Phaneuf's absence and playing nearly double the minutes he previously logged.
Despite the shootout loss, it's hard to get upset about the result of tonight's game.