Leafs Triumph Over San Jose in a Shootout
Toronto (3) San Jose (2) Final (SO)
Thursday, January 4, 2018
Toronto officially kicked-off the second half of their season with Game #42 at home versus the San Jose Sharks. This hasn’t exactly been the Maple Leafs’ favourite matchup in recent times…
For context, the Sharks had come out victorious in the previous ten meetings. As should be expected, the latest edition certainly wasn’t without animosity.
Before the game even had a chance to begin, Nazem Kadri and Joe Thornton were jostling in the face-off circle and were eventually kicked out of the opening draw. As you may have guessed, the mitts dropped shortly after that and it was barely 0:02 seconds in.
Matt Martin even got in on the action and delivered a big licking on Brent Burns the very next shift.
There were also several scoring chances sprinkled in somewhere, however, the ice wasn’t broken until the period’s final two minutes of play. Auston Matthews re-took the team lead in goals with his 18th tally of the season courtesy of slick a tip-in off Connor Carrick’s initial shot.
Toronto would be hoping to escape the frame with a lead, instead, it was San Jose responding with a goal of their own just 0:31 seconds later. Brenden Dillon found the equalizer after Matt Martin blocked a Brent Burns point-shot, which presented itself to Dillon with a seemingly vacant net to score on. His 1st goal of the season with just 0:52 seconds left on the clock.
As the second period rolled around, the competition remained neck-and-neck with chances flowing at both ends.
Nazem Kadri finally broke through to give his team a 2-1 lead at the 12:40 mark of the second. Mitch Marner’s play towards the net appeared to redirect off of Kadri’s foot before fooling Martin Jones, which of course prompted a booth-review — and was ruled in favour of Toronto.
For Kadri, his 14th goal of the season would snap a personal 12-game pointless streak.
Another late-period goal would be San Jose’s saving grace in a time of need. Chris Tierney found the back of the net against Frederik Andersen, who made a terrible misplay of the puck to feed the Sharks’ eventual goal scorer. Upon the dump-in, Andersen elected to stop the puck before attempting to pass but was horribly mistaken in doing so — Andersen fanned on his pass and soon Tierney was feeding the puck into an empty net.
The final twenty minutes of regulation proved ineffective and soon the game was destined for overtime, and finally a shootout.
Toronto entered the shootout sporting a 2-1-0 record this season and looked poised to build upon it. Auston Matthews scored on the shootout’s very first shot to give Toronto an advantage, which would go unchallenged until San Jose’s third shooter.
Kevin LeBlanc managed to squeak one past Freddy Andersen to extend the shootout beyond Round 3.
It remained rather quiet aside from the goaltending theatrics, that was until Round 6 rolled around with Tyler Bozak at the helm. As many anticipated, Bozak managed to beat Martin Jones with a blistering wrist-shot and put the heat on San Jose’s next shooter.
The man who tied the game at 2-apiece would have a chance to extend the game once more, however, he would fall victim to the wall that is Frederik Andersen — and Toronto would go on to win by a final score of 3-2.
Toronto’s next test will come on Saturday when they play host to the lowly Vancouver Canucks for an all-Canadian edition of Hockey Night in Canada — puck drop is set at 7:00 p.m.