That queasy feeling has resurfaced for Leafs fans due to the subpar play of the Toronto based team as of late. Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils was anything but reassuring for Leafs fans.
Last night the Toronto Maple Leafs traveled to Newark, NJ to compete against the Devils who have kept the team’s playoff hopes alive with a .500 record in the month of March. The contest marked the fifth straight loss for the Buds, who have managed to win only twice in their last eight games. Sunday’s loss could prove problematic for the Leafs who are looking for their first consecutive playoff berth in nine years.
New Jersey’s Damien Brunner opened the scoring on Sunday marking the seventh straight game that the Leafs have let their opponent score first. A poor Leafs line change allowed a 2 on 1 situation that began with Marek Zidlicky’s saucer pass to Adam Henrique, and finished with Brunner snapping the puck under the glove hand of Leafs’ netminder James Reimer.
The second period began with two quick goals scored by the Devils, the first coming on a breakaway opportunity featuring Patrick Elias, and the second being scored by defenseman Jon Merrill. The three goals on ten shots forced Randy Carlyle to replace Reimer with backup Drew MacIntyre, who was called up after the injury to goaltender Jonathan Bernier. The goalie change ignited the Leafs’ offense, resulting in a power play goal scored by Tyler Bozak. The period would end with the Devils leading 3-1.
Although the effort was there, the Leafs failed to overcome the two-goal deficit despite a late third period goal by Phil Kessel. The game ended in a 3-2 loss for the Leafs, making their final nine games significantly important.
One of the few positives of last night’s game was the play of Drew MacIntyre. MacIntyre gave the Leafs hope by stopping each of the fourteen shots he faced after relieving Reimer of his duties for the night. The question is: if Bernier remains unavailable, who will Carlyle start in his place? The Leafs will hope to end their winless drought on Tuesday, as they play host to the dominant Western Conference leading St. Louis Blues.
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