Toronto Maple Leafs Fall to Pittsburgh Penguins in Overtime
You have to give them some credit: the Toronto Maple Leafs could’ve simply packed things up last night and looked ahead to their next game after falling behind 2-0 in the first period to the powerhouse Pittsburgh Penguins.
Let’s be honest – no one would’ve blamed them either.
Pittsburgh is one of those special teams that don’t surrender a chokehold easily – they like to show off their tremendous skill and push opposing teams past the brink of embarrassment into downright humiliation. That’s the type of game you can afford to play when the like of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Patric Hornqvist, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang drive your offence.
In fact, I was about to redirect my attention towards a worthier cause when the Leafs showed some signs of life and found the back of the net 8:11 minutes into the second period. It wasn’t a pretty goal and I wouldn’t say the game had shifted in Toronto’s favour, but it was enough to hold my sometimes fickle attention and it demonstrated an unexpected but entirely welcome push by the Leafs to survive. This wasn’t the team that the Nashville Predators picked apart last week – they weren’t going to surrender quietly this night.
The goal was scored by everyone’s favourite kosmonaut, Leo Komarov. He would add another goal a few minutes later to tie things up. Toronto and Pittsburgh would trade two more goals, including a short-handed beauty from Tyler Bozak, before the end of the second period. No one found the back of the net in the third period before Blake Comeau pulled out the win for Pittsburgh in overtime.
Statistically, the Leafs “outplayed” the Penguins in the first period, registering more shots on net and dominating in the faceoff circle, but they came away trailing 2-0. The Sportsnet broadcast team was quick to turn this into a joke at the expense of hockey statisticians: Kyle Dubas and company were getting everything they wanted from the Leafs expect for the lead. It didn’t help that the Leafs clawed their way back into the game during the second period when the play shifted decisively in favour of the Penguins.
All of this brings me back to my opening comment about the game. Toronto had little hope of winning the game in the first place after Pittsburgh took such an early lead. No one would’ve blamed them if they rolled over and died right there. The team deserves credit for plugging away and getting themselves back into the game. I still don’t think they deserved to win or really even claim a consolation point – if it wasn’t for the unexpected heroics of Komarov and the special teams prowess of Bozak, the Leafs would’ve lost big time – but I’m glad they were able to retain my attention and make it an interesting game.
This is actually the type of game I love to see from the Leafs – one where they show some heart and refuse to die quietly in the night. It gives me hope for the next game.