Frederik Andersen avoids another early puck handling miscue to play hero in the Leafs 3-2 shootout win against the San Jose Sharks.
The Leafs played with a jump all game and it was started off with a fight between unlikely suspects. After hacking at each other in the opening faceoff, Nazem Kadri and Joe Thornton decided to drop the gloves, which resulted in Kadri ripping a chuck of hair out of the grizzled vet’s beard. With the offence struggling in the past three games, Kadri’s fight is what they needed to see to play inspired hockey for the first time in 2018.
Auston Matthews opened the scoring with a deflection past Martin Jones, but the same issues surfaced once again as the Sharks capitalized right after tying the game at one going into the first intermission. Kadri made his impact felt once again with a goal in the second, the first point for him in 12 games. But, as I said earlier, the Leafs issues would surface once again for a second time in this game, as just before the end of the second, Frederik Andersen had another miscue handling the puck which resulted in the tying goal. Andersen redeemed himself in the third, holding down the crease forcing the game into overtime. In overtime the Leafs penalty kill was tested, as Mitch Marner took a high sticking penalty to set up the Sharks powerplay to end the game. Once again Andersen was the best penalty killer and ultimately gave his team a chance in the shootout.
The Leafs play last night was the best I have seen them play in a while. All four lines were rolling, Matthews had a great bounce back game after a quiet night against Tampa, Kadri brought his energy and grit to neutralize the Sharks best offensive weapon and Andersen helped steal a win for a Leafs team that was desperate for one, as losers of their last three and in specific to the Sharks, who the Leafs haven’t beaten at home since 2002.
Player of the Game:
This one was between Frederik Andersen and Nazem Kadri, but I give the edge to Kadri as he was the one to set the tone for the whole game right off the opening draw. With Kadri out of the lineup last week, the Leafs lost a character guy that brings a lot of energy to a young lineup. Kadri snapped his career worse 12 game pointless streak and was a force on the ice since the opening draw.
This game had everything. Two fast offences trading chances and goals in the first two periods, superb goaltending in the third and some dramatics in the extra frame and shootout. The Leafs had a good bounce back game after a tough loss to Tampa, and finally broke a losing habit to the Sharks for the first time since 2002. This game was one of the best of the season and gets a 5/5.