The Leafs deliver a counter-punch to the Penguins, with a stifling defensive effort of their own in the third period to win the rematch.
First, I’d like to plug my Athletic article that went up today about TJ Brodie, if you haven’t read it. I like tracking games because it gives me a good understanding of what’s happening on the ice, so I can better discuss what makes a player like Brodie great using (mostly) objective data. If you don’t have an Athletic subscription, please get one. There’s lots of great content on the site across all sports and my subscription paid for itself when I used their lead fantasy football writer’s rankings to win my league last season.
As for the game I just watched (a couple of days late)… that went slightly better than Friday night’s game, and certainly better than most Leafs efforts in Pittsburgh over the years. It always felt to me like playing in Pittsburgh resulted in some awful, team-defining 4-0 loss, followed up immediately by a win at home to Tampa Bay or whoever the following game.
The Leafs were better in this Tuesday game in Pittsburgh than they were for Friday’s home game against the Penguins, especially at 5v5, out-chancing the Penguins 19-15 (as opposed to 18-15 at home), and actually out-chancing the Penguins 9-3 in the third period, as the Pens were theoretically pressing to climb back in the game.
There were some hairy shifts at the start of the period (and the Leafs allowed a quick 3-on-2 entry almost immediately after the opening faceoff) and Pittsburgh generated a fair bit on their powerplay, but otherwise, the Leafs did what they had to do. They held the Penguins to a 34% controlled entry percentage against in the frame, and just 40% recoveries on shoot-ins, and didn’t give them a lot of good opportunities to play with the puck inside the zone.
Oddly, the Leafs did better in the third period with the lead in this game than they did in the game that they were trailing, but that’s because the Penguins played such a tight game defensively Friday night. They were trailing for most of this game and weren’t in a position to do the same. It’s a good win for Toronto, and a rare wire-to-wire win for them this season, just the third game all season they did not trail, and the second time they’ve won.
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