Friday, 23 December 2011

Leafs Win Second Straight Heading Into The Break

MacArthur scores on Nabokov early in the first period
The Toronto Maple Leafs pick up points 39 and 40 on the season as they score early and often to edge the New York Islanders. Under two minutes into the game Clarke MacArthur scored for the Leafs as he took a pass from Connolly and put the puck past Nabokov. A few minutes later Nazem Kadri scored his second in as many nights on the powerplay and later in the first period Carl Gunnarsson made it 3-0 for the Leafs.

As the game pressed on, the Leafs seemed content with their lead and slowed down considerably. The Islanders would score at the end of the first and then early in the second period to make it a one goal game, but Tyler Bozak would set up Joey Crabb for a short-handed marker to regain the two goal lead for the Leafs. The Leafs would hang on to the lead and win the game by a score of 5-3.

John-Michael Liles did not play tonight because of precautionary reasons due to a neck strain sustained in Friday nights game when he was hit with his head down as he was corraling a pass. Jake Gardiner found himself back in the line-up in Liles absence after sitting out yesterdays game.

The Leafs fourth line, comprised of Boyce, Steckel and Crabb, played exceptionally well. They worked the puck into the offensive zone and kept it below the Islanders icing line all game long with strong forechecking and good work on the cycle. It's nice to see a fourth line that Ron Wilson isn't afraid to throw out on the ice in the third period, especially in back-to-back games like tonight. This gives the Leafs top three lines a break so that they can bring a very energetic pace to some of their shift as the game progresses.

Tyler Bozak was all over the ice tonight setting up many offensive chances although he was unable to convert a goal for the Leafs. The newly formed third line of MacArthur, Connolly, and Kadri also looked very well tonight. Connolly and Kadri can see the ice really well and are very talented at passing the puck and the speed and hustle of MacArthur really compliments them.

The Leafs will attempt to continue their win streak on Tuesday night as they face off against the Florida Panthers, who are coming off an 8-0 loss to the Boston Bruins.