Alright Leaf fans, take a breath, come out from behind the couch, it’s over….
The Toronto Maple Leafs travelled to Detroit on Saturday night for an Original Six matchup against the Red Wings. Toronto is coming off a hard fought 3-1 win over Minnesota on Thursday, while the Wings were coming off a tough 5-2 lost against their old foes in the Avalanche.
Both teams last met at the end of January in a wild 7-4 Maple Leafs win which saw them comeback from a 3 goal lead, but the rematch might just have taken the cake for crazy games.
Goals from Michael Bunting and William Nylander had the Leafs up 2-0 within six minutes, and offsetting goals from potential Calder winner Lucas Raymond and David Kampf saw the Leafs head to the first intermission with a 3-1 lead.
As I went to go take a shower from a long day at work, Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner scored his 18th, 19th and 20th goals of the season (all assisted by his line mates Matthews and Bunting) within a 9:20 stretch to open the second period. This was his first NHL hat trick.
The Bunting-Matthews-Marner line has been absolutely electric for the past 15 games, putting up 40 points in that stretch. After the game against Detroit, that line combined for 15(!) points alone.
As I returned to my T.V, soaking wet hair and all I was just in time to see Sam Gagner score his sixth goal of the season after a brutal turnover by Jack Campbell had him playing outside of his net to allow Gagner an open net to shoot at.
Any fears of a “It was 6-1” comeback were definitely spurned as Auston Matthews scored to take his NHL leading goal tally up to 38 on the season, as the two teams headed to the dressing rooms after 40 minutes with the score at 7-2.
While many Leaf fans had some sort of a relief that their beloved team wearing blue and white wouldn’t be able to cough up a five goal lead with only 20 minutes to play heading into the third period, they started to witness their worst nightmares coming to life.
Within a 5:21 stretch to open the third period, the Red Wings saw Hronek, Rowney, Veleno and Rasmussen score four unanswered to put the game at 7-6. Campbell finished his night after Veleno made it 7-5 and finished the night with 5 goals on 25 shots for a .800 save percentage (yikes!) as he has now allowed 4 or more goals in his last 3 starts.
Ilya Mikheyev stopped some of the bleeding as he burst through the Wings defence like a bolt of lightning, slotting his 9th goal of the year past Alex Nedjelkovic. Nedjekovic, who started the game and was than replaced after the first period, only to return back for the third after the Leafs four goal outburst, ended his night with 6 goals on on 25 shots.
After Lucas Raymond got his second goal of the game to make it 8-7, just 40 seconds later, Ondrej Kase scored his first SHG of the season, and his 11th, to put the Leafs up by two.
Marner was on the board for the 4th time on the evening after a breakaway drop pass by Bunting gave Marner a wide-open net to shoot at, as he picked up his sixth point on the night, and 21st goal of the season, putting him on pace for 35 goals this season and 90 points for the year.
Despite the Leafs scoring 10 goals today, captain John Tavares was held pointless amidst a goal drought that now stretches 12 games.
In a wild night of stats, here are some of the wildest….
Toronto heads to Washington to take on the Capitals Monday night, while Detroit will welcome Carolina to the Little Ceasers Arena on Tuesday evening.