Recap: Lundqvist Bounces Back in Win Over Leafs

On Thursday night, the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Rangers met for the second time in under a week. Rather than start their rookie net minder, Magnus Hellberg (which was originally expected), the Rangers threw Henrik Lundqvist back between the pipes to try to shake off the inconsistent play they’ve seen from him lately.

Jake Gardiner Maple Leafs
With Morgan Rielly out of the lineup, Jake Gardiner saw big minutes against the New York Rangers. (Photo by Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

On the other side, the Leafs were playing their first game of the season without arguably their number one defenceman – Morgan Rielly. His absence meant top pairing minutes for Jake Gardiner and a long-awaited opportunity for Frank Corrado who saw 11 minutes of ice time to go along with two minor penalties.

While it was special teams that played a role in the Rangers win, it wasn’t the power play that did the job. Instead, both teams got in on the shorthanded scoring and ultimately it was a former Maple Leaf that put the game away in the third period with a pair of goals including an empty netter.

First Period

The first period was a disappointing one by the standards of the Leafs team we’ve seen lately. Out shot 19-9 by the Rangers and out chanced, the Leafs had four giveaways in the first period leading to a number of the Ranger opportunities.

The Rangers, on the other hand, came out gunning. Andersen was forced to come up with a big save just three minutes into the period when Gardiner was caught watching the puck. Mats Zuccarello jumped on the opportunity, but the Leafs goalie came up big early.

Under a minute later, Connor Carrick was sent off for slashing the former Leaf – Michael Grabner – as he got a partial break. The Rangers weren’t able to score on the power play, but did get four shots on Andersen. The Leafs also got a 2-on-1 shorthanded break, but Lundqvist was able to get a pad on the pass meant for Frederik Gauthier and break up the play.

While they weren’t able to score on the man advantage, the Rangers did notch one shortly after it ended. Zuccarello was able to beat Nazem Kadri in the corner before dishing to Brady Skjei who fired his second goal of the season past Andersen to give New York a 1-0 lead.

Both Lundqvist and Andersen did make a number of big saves to keep the game from getting out of hand early, but both teams were still able to find the back of the net in the first period.

The Leafs tied the game midway through the period after Marner missed an opportunity from the wing. The puck came around the boards and Marner picked it up in the corner before firing a pass in front of the Rangers net where Bozak slipped it past Lundqvist’s outstretched pad.

The Rangers grabbed the lead back four minutes later when Andersen wasn’t able to cover up in his crease. New York’s rookie Pavel Buchnevich was able to kick the puck up to his stick before tipping it into the back of the net.

The play was reviewed briefly before it was called a good goal giving the Rangers the lead heading into the second.

The Leafs did have a power play opportunity late in the period that included a Rangers’ 2-on-0 shorthanded break that was stopped by Andersen, but the closed the period still down a goal.

Second Period

The second wasn’t nearly as eventful as the first – at least not during the first 10 minutes. However, that quickly changed with a couple partial breaks for both squads. The first came when Rangers’ defenceman Nick Holden was stopped by Andersen, followed by Marner losing control in close on his chance.

That seemed to ignite both teams as the Rangers came back the other way and with the puck coming to him at the hash marks to the left of Andersen, J.T. Miller fired a shot that was heading wide. Unfortunately for the Leafs, the Miller shot took a bounce off the side of Hunwick’s helmet and got past Andersen to give New York a 3-1 lead.

The Leafs seemed to be falling apart as Corrado took two consecutive minor penalties for hooking and slashing. But they managed a shorthanded opportunity during both penalty kills and it was Zach Hyman stealing the puck from Adam Clendening that got the Leafs back within one goal.

The period was better from a Leafs’ standpoint (aside from the two Corrado penalties) but they were still out shot in the frame 16-9 in the period and 35-18 overall through two periods of play.

Third Period

Numbers weren’t on the Leafs side heading into the third down one goal. Before Thursday’s game, Toronto was 2-11-1 when trailing after two periods.

Aside from a Matt Hunwick delay of game penalty just over four minutes into the period, the game seemed to slow down quite noticeably. The Leafs were able to kill off the Rangers power play – which went 0-for-4 on the night – and held them off with no shots.

Matt Martin drew a late tripping penalty on Oscar Lindberg, which seemed to infuriate Lundqvist, but one of the league’s hottest power plays wasn’t able to capitalize. Instead, Grabner turned it back and scored a shorthanded goal on a breakaway to give the Rangers a 4-2 lead and ultimately the win. Grabner added an empty net goal for his 21st of the season and that along with a strong effort from Lundqvist handed the Leafs their first loss in four games.

Scoring Summary


NYR – Brady Skjei (2) assisted by Mats Zuccarello and Chris Kreider

TOR – Tyler Bozak (11) assisted by Mitch Marner and James van Riemsdyk

NYR – Pavel Buchnevich (6) assisted by Rick Nash and Brady Skjei


NYR – J.T. Miller (15) assisted by Kevin Hayes and Adam Clendening

TOR – Zach Hyman (6) SHG unassisted


NYR – Michael Grabner (20) SHG assisted by Kevin Hayes and Nick Holden

NYR – Michael Grabner (21) ENG unassisted

THW Three Stars

First: Michael Grabner (2 goals, 4 shots)

Second: Brady Skjei (1 goal, 1 assist and +3)

Third: Frederik Andersen (36 saves, .900 sv%)


Ottawa Senators at Toronto Maple Leafs

Air Canada Centre – 7:00 p.m. EST on Saturday, January 21

Broadcast channels – CBC, CITY and TVAS2

2016-17 Season Series: Maple Leafs lead series 1-0-1