New York Rangers 2 at Toronto Maple Leafs 3 (OT) – 2023-01-26 recap

Auston Matthews finally has his big night carrying the puck and the Leafs succeed in completing a garden-variety comeback.

I don’t have a tonne of time to publish my thoughts on this game, which is good news since I don’t have very many. This was a very standard game, with the Leafs falling behind midway through the second period, pushing a little bit in the third, and getting the tying goal and eventually a beauty from Mitch Marner in the overtime frame.

A few notable things happened though. First, Matthews and Marner began on a line together and ended there. Typically, Sheldon Keefe will mix up combinations midway through the game if the team is struggling to create any offence but Leafs players had a chance to dig themselves out of a hole and they did (sorta), with John Tavares-William Nylander getting the job done on a late forechecking shift.

The second notable thing that happened, to me, was just how stingy the Rangers were. I think one problem with the shot counter on broadcasts is that fans are probably more content with lots of shots, none of which are scoring chances. It’s good for the soul to see that shot number in the 40s, especially when forcing a comeback, but the Leafs don’t really play that way. It’s easy for the Leafs offence to look really pedestrian some nights when things aren’t clicking, and when they have lots of scoring chances disrupted around the net. This was also a thing that was (sorta) happening. The Leafs were getting their looks, but I didn’t get the sense it looked like they were blowing the doors in, or that the game resembled some classic recent games against the Rangers where Igor Shesterkin (or the backup, but Alexandar Georgiev is in Denver now) would make several five-alarm saves in a win. The Rangers are a better team than they’ve generally been over the last two or three seasons: they’ve improved by a few spots in terms of scoring chances allowed, according to Natural Stat Trick.

That said, I watched this game Thursday afternoon, I’m typing about it Friday morning, and I’m having difficulty identifying any very notable chances that happened between the start of the third period and Timothy Liljegren’s tying goal.

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