The three-point night for Mark Giordano includes an OT winner as the full return of the Maple Leafs in Ottawa

Each team has several opponents, where it doesn’t really matter where the club is in the standings, you know that anything is possible when the two sides meet.

For the Toronto Maple Leafs, we can choose between the Ottawa Senators, the Montreal Canadiens, the Buffalo Sabers and the Boston Bruins. No matter what and no matter when, chaos is a real possibility.

Tonight was no different, but Leafs managed to cope and two points are all that matters, as they strive to gain an advantage on the home ice in the first round.

Your game for 10:

1. Leafs’ match against Washington was one of their best and most fulfilling of the season, so I was curious to see how it will go on Saturday night in front of many Leafs fans in Ottawa.

I wouldn’t say they came out with firearms, but the Leafs continued to play except for TJ Brodie, who was really beaten by Adam Gaudette after a quick attack. Then they had a powerful game where the first unit was dangerous and almost finished a few fights in front before the second unit created much of nothing.

With 10 minutes played, Leafs had a good chance to score, but the two best chances were for Gaudette out of the game and Josh Norris essentially missed a wide open net with a tic-tac-toe, transferring play after pressure.

2. Coming out of a commercial timeout with an offensive zone, Sheldon Keef put William Nylander next to Aston Matthews and Mitch Marner for a change. They didn’t score or even really created a chance to score, but they made a game of force.

It is worth finding this trio more visions. In the last few weeks, the Leafs have made it clear that they can actually play John Tavares with their starless wings and the line will be effective. Leafs could hypothetically use a loaded top line and follow it with more than respectful, led by Tavares, then the line led by David Kampf, and add Michael Bunting to one of the units.

It may not be the kind they use all 60 minutes, but there will obviously be times when they fall behind in the playoffs and want to either change the lines or charge to push.

3. As predicted by the first half of the period, Leafs continued to play, but the senators were the ones who came down on the ice and scored the first goal after a quick attack. TJ Brody, who really struggled throughout the period, had a weak experience when he had a wide open kick at the beginning (after reviewing him a few times, I’m not sure he realized he was getting a puck; that’s why he’s a defender).

Justin Hall took a crazy route after making a good pass; while you wonder if he would have done something anyway if he had made a hard stop right after the pass, maybe 2v1 instead (which would have made a difference). Even if he can’t come back, it’s a bad process to walk along the shore. I wouldn’t expect a point – it’s unreasonable to expect him there – but he also can’t move down the slot, as if Brody scored a guaranteed goal.

The most underestimated part of the goal is that Alex Kerfut, who would have been a striker in a position to cover high, was buried with a clean sheet by Brady Tkachuk. Instead, he rose from the ground, Hall did not stop, Brody made a terrible game with the puck and was a 2v0 goal, in which there was nothing to say to the goalkeeper except to apologize.

Shortly after the goal, Michael Bunting headed for a mini-break, but he was turned away.

4. The mistakes in defense continued shortly after, when the senators won the zone after a quick attack, went around behind the net and reached the point. If you look at the front of the net, Timothy Lleggren was standing right in front of Eric Calgren, hiding him for no reason. Brady Tkachuk pushed him out of the way and defended the goalkeeper himself before the puck reached Calgren and deflected from Lillegren.

The defender in this position must find a man and box him, not hide his goalkeeper, push him out of the way and make the puck deviate from you.

The leaves tried to generate another boost after that. Nylander executed a penalty on a weak call, but Leafs created 2v1 while still short-sighted. TJ Brody again made a bad decision with the puck, which did not lead to a real chance to score.

5. The Leafs are right to experiment with their fourth line. Jason Spezza struggled for a while; Wayne Simmonds for even longer. Kyle Clifford can’t play every night. The only real support at the moment is Colin Blackwell.

In the second period, the version, which included Clifford – Blackwell – Spca, connected for a goal after he scored the puck in the offensive zone after a clear break, made it to the point and just reached the net. Giordano did a very good job of holding the puck, Hall did a really good game in heads-up to notice that Clifford drove for her and gave him an easy tip, and Clifford made great advice (although based on the reaction his after, we are not entirely sure that he actually knew what he was doing).

You want the fourth line to be able to swing games and change momentum. He didn’t always score – especially with this group – but in this case he was a good contributor to the Leafs return table within one.

Cliff is getting one back! 🚨

– Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) April 17, 2022

6. After the goal I started to think that if the fourth line brings them one, surely someone else will follow and we will have equal hockey. After the goal, however, Leafs really didn’t do much.

The top line had a chance – if the cross-ice pass was connected, it was probably a draw – but it was eliminated and then the Leafs really didn’t create much in the way of high-risk opportunities in the first half of the second period. Naturally, the senators eventually got off the ice, turned the puck to the point, threw a point kick at this deflection net and regained a two-goal lead.

Somewhat like their second goal, Sens managed to get clean point shots and get bodies in front of the net with ease.

7. This time Leafs responded well with a goal only 1:17 later. The top line was buzzing on this one. Timothy Llegren hit the crossbar, but Leafs retained possession. Eventually, Mark Giordano lifted the puck on his strong side and made a nice shot at Michael Bunting and entered.


– Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) April 17, 2022

This was Giordano’s second point of the night (so far). Bunting did well to get to the net and make an option. Unlike the first goal, this one really gave life to the Leafs and they started to create some chances and energy.

He was mostly led from the top line while Mitch Marner danced and created on the next shift. Morgan Riley also came in and got a good shot, turned sideways. Heading in the other direction, Liljegren caught himself in the offensive zone and Tkachuk intervened in a mini-split, which Erik Kallgren replied, which was a great game as the Leafs began to raise money while there was only one.

This was great because Marner tied the game before the period was over. In principle, Marner did his best. After the Leafs lost the tie in the offensive zone, Marner made a U-turn, passed the puck to TJ Brodie and then returned it home once.

Marner’s confidence in his strike at the moment is undeniable. He just doesn’t have a chance to make that strike a few years ago or even last spring against the Habs.


– Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) April 17, 2022

8. Coming out for the third, the top line started well, generating some time in the zone. Ilya Mikheev and Pierre Engval created good chances after a fork (John Tavares was also involved), but it was the senators who broke the dead end when Ilya Lyubushkin was handed out.

There’s really nothing else to say here. ”He waved the puck. Lyubushkin is physically and positionally stable, but handling the puck and moving the puck is the real issue for him when it comes to playing in the playoffs, especially with Rieli – and especially if they play against Tampa Bay.

Although he plays regularly with Morgan Rielly, Lubushkin has averaged 16:16 per game as Leaf and has not played more than 16:03 in any of his last five games, although he played 18 minutes tonight. His lack of time for ice to match the quality players he usually shares ice with helps hide these weaknesses.

In a perfect world for coaching staff, the Jake Moosen-Justin Hall couple is back in shape (there is absolutely no evidence for anyone to believe this at the moment, but I think that’s why they immediately reunited them when Musen is back), TJ Brody manages to reunite with Rielli and they can pair Mark Giordano with Timothy Lleggren as they are effective together.

There is so much talk about Lillegren or Hall leaving the playoffs, but Lubushkin is certainly in the mix (and not just because of that goal against; he hardly plays compared to Hall and can’t produce like Lillegren). But with Muzzin’s health and overall gameplay changing – to go along with Holl’s up and down play – it’s now about musical chairs.

9. The amusement train game is not over yet. Mitch Marner equalized again, making a nice little game with Michael Bunting, who had what it took to get him into the net. This is the kind of greasy goal you love to see: the player hits the net hard, the teammate puts it low to the rebound net and the puck deviates from the teammate.

And so they say go online 🤷‍♂️

– Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) April 17, 2022

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