Gritty Leafs Won’t Go Away, Win 5-3

For those of you in the “same old, same old group” you received another example of why you are wrong last night as the Maple Leafs blew a one goal lead, came back from being down in the third period and won 4-3 in a shootout against the Boston Bruins, marking the fourth time this year the Leafs have defeated the Big, Bad Bruins.  In a place where the Leafs have historically had trouble, they stunned the TD Bank Garden crowd when Joffrey Lupul tied the game in the third for his second goal of the game.

After an exciting overtime period which saw Tim Thomas stop Mikhail Grabovski on a penalty shot and the Leafs kill off a penalty to close out the extra period, Nazem Kadri scored the only goal in the shootout on a beautiful move that made Tim Thomas look like an old bar league goalie.  The Bruins must have read the Lightning scouting reports becuase they tried to beat James Reimer three times high on his glove side.  The first two shots went over the net.  The third shot by Rick Peverly went high again but the Reiminister of Defense got his glove on it and secured the Leafs win.

What has been most impressive since the Red Wing loss has been the fact that the team has been playing with desperation right from the opening faceoff.  It was clear that the Leafs were the much quicker team last night and even the Bruins NESN broadcasters grudgingly had to give credit to the Leafs as being faster and grittier than the playoff bound Bruins.

The penalty kill at the end of the overtime period really illustrates the difference in this team as Tim Brent and Luke Schenn had two blocked shots, Brent off the stick of Zdeno Chara – he of the hardest shot in the NHL.  It was a gutty performance and one that can only bring future dividends for this Leaf team going into next season.

Once again, the Leaf power play was putrid however they did score once with the man advantage.  That being said, it is imperative that the power play be improved next season if the Leafs are to make the playoffs and be a factor.  The season long maligned penalty kill was 4 for 4 in stopping the Bruins, none bigger than the PK in the overtime.

The Leafs now are 12-8-4 against their Northeast rivals.  What’s extremely important about that is that they have taken it to the Sabres and Bruins in the last seven games they have played against those teams posting a 7-0 record.  Saturday they face the Senators in Ottawa and have a chance to fatten their Division record.  The Senators would like nothing better than to put the Leafs out of their misery.  That’s why they must take control early and continue playing with the desperation they have showed in the last two games.

Puck drop Saturday on HNIC is 7pm.

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