It wasn’t pretty but a win is a win, as the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Arizona Coyotes 7-4, in what turned out to be a pretty enjoyable game to watch.
The Leafs hopped out to an early three goal lead highlighted by a gorgeous goal by Auston Matthews. The Leafs for some reason allowed the Coyotes to get back in the game scoring two quick goals before the end of the first. I was interested to see how the Leafs would respond in the second, but it still didn’t look good as the Leafs gave up a long 5 on 3 opportunity to the Coyotes. The Leafs penalty kill were led by Morgan Reilly and Ron Hainsey, who killed the whole 5 on 3. Their efforts sparked the Leafs offence as Patrick Marleau tipped his first of two goals on the night, restoring a two-goal lead. Later in the second, Marleau and William Nylander would score within ten seconds of each other, securing the Leafs win, despite two more goals from Arizona.
The Leafs got themselves into penalty trouble, but the penalty kill came to play last night. Arizona converted only once on six attempts, but it seems to cancel it out with Zach Hyman’s shorthanded goal in the first period. As well as the big kill on the five on three in the second played a big part into the Leafs win tonight.
The Leafs lost Nazem Kadri after the first intermission, after taking an elbow to the head. It seems unlikely Kadri will suit up tonight as the Leafs take on the Colorado Avalanche. Kadri isn’t the only Leaf with an injury, as Curtis McElhinney suffered an undisclosed injury, which forced the Leafs to call up Calvin Pickard from the Marlies. Pickard will be pressed into action tonight as he takes on his former team, where he made all of his 86 career appearances for the Avalanche. Look for him to be motivated in his “revenge game” as he faces the Avalanche for the first time since the Vegas Golden Knights drafted him in the expansion draft.
Colorado lost their first game back from the holiday break, a 3-1 lost to the Coyotes. Colorado sits at the bottom of the Central Division with 37 points, but a lot of those losses came earlier in the season, and are 5-4-1 in their last ten games.
Player to Watch for Colorado:
It has to be Nathan MacKinnion. After the trade of Matt Duchene, Nathan MacKinnion has elevated his game, and has really asserted himself as the main offensive weapon on this young Avalanche team. Not only on his team, but McKinnon has really taken the next step of reaching his 1st overall potential, as he sits in the top 15 in the NHL in points with 40.
Last night I was completely wrong, thinking it would be a cake walk for the Leafs against the league’s worst team. Tonight, the Leafs take on yet another bottom dwelling team but this time I expect a closer game. Colorado is playing ok hockey coming into this game, and the Leafs are on the second game of a back to back. I give this game a 3/5 on the scale.
Hyman - Matthews - Nylander
Komarov - Marleau - Brown
JVR - Bozak - Marner
Martin - Moore - Leivo
Reilly - Hainsey
Gardiner - Marincin
Borgman - Polak
Landeskog - MacKinnon - Rantanen
Kerfoot - Compher - Wilson
Nieto - Soderberg - Comeau
Andrighetto - Jost - Bourque
Zadorov - Johnson
Nemeth - Barberio
Girard - Lindholm