Just 19 hours after the Maple Leafs
beat stomped the Washington Capitals 7-1 Saturday night, they lose 3-2 to the struggling Carolina Hurricanes. You could tell the boys were really tired out there but they (Phil Kessel) made it close. Carolina went up 2-0 going into the 3rd period when Phil Kessel scored to make it 2-1. Then a huge mistake by John-Michael Liles and Cody Franson lead to a breakaway by Eric Staal who was stopped by Ben Scrivens but Jeff Skinner jumps on the rebound, with no one near him, and buries to make it 3-1. Phil Kessel scored late, but couldn’t complete the comeback.
- Phil Kessel. The man cannot be stopped. He just continues to score, adding 2 more today to get to 16 and still leads the NHL in points as well. He hasn’t gone more than 2 games without a point and I think he can, and will go over 40 goals this year.
- Tim Connolly. He’s been injured like crazy this year, but people don’t realize how good he has been when he’s in the lineup. Connolly now has 8 points in 9 games and logged 21 minutes despite not being the #1 centre since he’s been back. I would think he’ll get his #1 job back if he continues his excellent performance (and doesn’t get hurt of course).
- Ben Scrivens. Yes, he allowed 3 goals, but Scrivens was the sole reason that the Hurricanes didn’t win 5-2. The defense hung him out to dry multiple time and he bailed them out. 2 of the 3 goals weren’t his fault (Jokinen and Skinner). Jokinen’s was deflected in and Skinner… Don’t get me started on that one. Overall he stopped 38 of 41, not a bad night for the rookie who is starting to find his groove.
- Carl Gunnarsson. I’m sure you’ve noticed but Gunnar is on the top pair with captain Dion Phaneuf and has thrived. In the beginning, most thought it was just to showcase his abilities. But now it seems like he might be here to stay because he’s played so well. Today he logged the 2nd most minutes on the team (behind Dion) and was a strong presence all game.
- Refereeing. I hate making this excuse, I really do, but today’s game was just bad. There were at least 2 or 3 slashing penalties that should have been called on the Hurricanes. Jeff Skinner was flopping all over the ice ( hate to say that too since Skinner is one of my favorites). They called a hook on Kessel after he was punched in the face by Brandon Sutter. Sutter also only got a 2 minute minor for punching Kessel in the face.
- Everyone On The Ice For The Skinner Goal. Not only was it a horrible play, but it was the eventual winner. I don’t want to get too into this goal. It starts with Liles and Franson being too agressive, at the same time, with 6 minutes left, and then Eric Staal was sprung on a breakaway. Scrivens stopped him, but the rebound was left for Jeff Skinner who was wide open and pots it, while the Leafs were watching it all unfold. To be fair, Frattin did hustle back and just over-skated the rebound, but he made the pass to Kulemin’s skates which lead to the breakaway. Horrible play all around.
Overall, this just came down to the Leafs being very tired from playing the night before and having to travel to Carolina right after. Sloppy game until the 3rd, same song and dance really except the Leafs couldn’t get at least a point this time. Just have to put it behind them and get ready for Tampa Bay on Tuesday, in Tampa.