It looked like a blow out in the making, after the Leafs scored two goals in the first two minutes of the game. However, the one aspect that Mike Babcock wanted to fix for this game was in the defensive zone. Needless to say, Babcock will not be happy with the Leafs effort in this game. After a three goal first period, the Penguins countered in the second with two of their own cutting the deficit in half. Sidney Crosby made things interesting in the third with his third goal in the past five games. Once again Frederik Andersen had to bail out the Leafs defence with another superb effort in net, stopping 33 saves for his 17th win of the season, which is second in the league only behind Andrei Vasilevskiy. A lot of reaction from this game was the fact that William Nylander played less than nine minutes. When you look at the way the game unfolded, it made sense, with the Leafs needing to preserve the lead they turned to guys like Zach Hyman and Connor Brown to do so, instead of Nylander.
Performance of the Night:
Tyler Bozak earns the performance of the night. The veteran centre scored two goals including the game winner, while also chipping in an assist on James Van Riemsdyk’s goal. This was arguably Bozak’s best game this season, as he looked more involved in the play than games prior. Bozak had a team high five shots on net and once again was admirable in the face off dot. I don’t know if this is sustainable for the rest of the season, but it was important he stepped up tonight considering it was relatively quiet nights from the big offensive threats. If Bozak didn’t have his best game the season, then I don’t think the Leafs would have been able to win this game.
I had some big expectations for this game. The two early goals really took away from the excitement but towards the end when the game was close and Pittsburgh was pressuring for a goal, the game picked up in pace and intensity. I gave it a 5/5 pregame, but now that I got to see the two teams do battle, I give it a 4/5.