It was a back and forth affair with both Frederik Andersen and Henrik Lundqvist dominating their respective creases. The two combined to allow just two goals on 71 shots with Andersen making 37 of those to help his Leafs earn a point in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Rangers.
While the Leafs would’ve rather had two points and the win, the single point does help them in the Eastern Conference standings – especially with a Canadiens loss to the Islanders. Still, they let one slip away as they won just 33 percent of the face-offs all game and had 20 giveaways in the game.
They had three power plays but couldn’t muster anything as the Rangers shut down one of the best power plays in the entire NHL.
On the other side, the Rangers were kept in the game by Lundqvist and his 32 saves. While they also couldn’t get anything done with the man advantage, the Rangers out hit the Leafs to keep the home team on their toes in this one.
Andersen set the tone early when an Auston Matthews giveaway at the Leafs blue line led to a chance for the Rangers. Derek Stepan sent the puck in front, but the Leafs goalie was able to come up big. A few minutes later, Andersen was forced to make another couple saves right in front to keep the score even at zero.
About 11 minutes into the period, it was Connor Brown who fought for the loose puck along the side boards inside the Rangers zone. Getting the puck back to the point, he drove straight to the net. Gardiner fired a shot from the point that was tipped by Bozak in the slot. The puck ricocheted to Brown at the side of the net and he was able to put it past Lundqvist for his 15th goal of the season – adding to the incredible season by Leafs’ rookies.
Andersen followed that up with another big save on Mika Zibanejad going post to post to make the stop. Just two minutes after the goal, Nazem Kadri drew a hooking penalty on Chris Kreider who was forced to sit for two minutes. The Leafs, however, weren’t able to capitalize on the man advantage and it remained a one-goal game.
The period ended with the Leafs up by one, but not before Andersen made another big left pad save on former Leaf Michael Grabner on an open net opportunity. In all, the Leafs’ goalie made 14 saves in the period.
The second was another period dominated by the goaltending at both ends of the ice. Lundqvist made a blocker stop of Nikita Zaitsev to open the frame, before Andersen answered with a glove save off a J.T. Miller point shot.
The Leafs came back with another great opportunity in front of the Rangers’ goalie, but Dan Girardi knocked the net off without a call. That was followed by James van Riemsdyk hitting the outside of the post and a Matthews chance that was gloved by Lundqvist following a Rangers turnover.
Andersen came up big again after Oscar Lindberg got through the Leafs’ defence – making a pad save.
Nylander almost converted on a cross-ice pass by Matthews about midway through the period, but couldn’t get the shot off. Following that chance, Frederik Gauthier took the puck hard to the Rangers net. While he was almost able to get it around Lundqvist, he was whistled for taking out the Rangers’ goalie and sat for goaltender interference.
Both masked men continued to stand on their heads for the remainder of the period and with 39 seconds left in the middle frame, Miller took a tripping penalty on Brown to send the Leafs to their second power play of the game.
The Leafs opened the period on the power play following a late penalty to Miller in the second, but weren’t able to capitalize. They had a very brief two-man advantage when Rick Nash was called for tripping Morgan Rielly but that only lasted two seconds. Again, the Leafs power play weren’t able to get anything going on their third man advantage of the game.
About five minutes in, it was Zaitsev who stopped a great chance for the Rangers. An in-close two-on-one, Mats Zuccarello tried to get the puck across the slot, but Zaitsev used an active stick to knock that one out of danger.
The chances, of course, didn’t stop there. Almost nine minutes into the period, Zuccarello was sent in alone. Diving to try to disrupt the play, Zaitsev succeeded in stopping the Rangers’ forward, but was whistled for tripping on the play.
The Leafs’ penalty kill demonstrated great patience shutting down the first half of the Rangers power play, even getting a top-notch scoring chance when Komarov fired the puck off the shoulder of Lundqvist. But the Rangers finally got set up in the offensive zone.
Just as their man advantage ended, the Rangers got the puck back to the point. Following the point shot, Miller found the loose puck in the Leafs crease and buried it behind Andersen to even up the game.
— David Shapiro (@BlueSeatBlogs) February 24, 2017
With just under two minutes left, Zach Hyman fired a pass out in front of the Rangers’ net. The puck came to Rielly who fired a quick one-time shot. But that one was stopped as well – this time by the post.
Just over a minute into overtime Miller was sent in alone on Andersen, but he lost the puck. The Rangers seemed to feed of that chance and had a number of opportunities following it, but Andersen was up to the test.
Komarov got a break away with less than a minute, but Lundqvist came up with a big save. The Leafs followed that up with a wrap around chance. That, too, was stopped by Lundqvist. Thirteen second to go, Matthews was sent in alone. He was stopped.
Nash got the final chance of the extra frame as he managed to get in alone on Andersen. But, as the game went all night, Andersen made the stop and this one went to a shootout.
TOR – Connor Brown (15) assisted by Tyler Bozak and Jake Gardiner
NYR – J.T. Miller (19) assisted by Kevin Hayes and Brandon Pirri
TOR – William Nylander – Saved
NYR – Mats Zuccarello – Goal
TOR – Auston Matthews – Goal
NYR – Mika Zibanejad – Goal
TOR – Nazem Kadri – Saved
THW Three Stars
First: Henrik Lundqvist (32 saves and the win)
Second: Frederik Andersen (37 saves)
Third: Mika Zibanejad (Shootout winner)
Montreal Canadiens at Toronto Maple Leafs
Air Canada Centre – 7:00 p.m. EST – Saturday, February 25
Broadcast channels – CBC, TVAS and CITY
2016-17 Season Series: Canadiens lead series 3-0-0