There’s two ways to look at the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-3 victory over the New York Rangers at the Scotiabank Arena Saturday evening.
One they didn’t play very well but won anyway; or apply an old sports cliché “good teams find a way to win.”
Whatever you choose, the Leafs won the first of back-to-back games against Original 6 teams this weekend with the Detroit Red Wings on deck for a rare home Sunday match.
From goaltender Frederik Andersen out, the Leafs looked “off” tonight; turning the puck over 14x (Rangers had 9); missing open team mates; a confused looking power play after a bonehead double minor to Rangers Adam McQuaid (must have thought he was still playing for the Bruins) and appeared to be playing in 2nd gear most of the game.
Make no bones about it, this again is a game the Leafs should win but the pesky Rangers what they lack in talent made up for with a “never say die” work ethic.
They crowded the neutral zone most of the night with at times 3 or 4 Rangers lined up across the red line challenging the Leafs to try penetrating their zone.
When the Leafs did manage to get some offensive time they moved the puck effectively and had the New York defenders running around.
That produced three of the five Toronto goals; the fourth a nice finish by Mitch Marner after a slick pass from John Tavares and 16 salted the game away by with an empty-netter. Patrick Marleau, Andreas Johnsson and the hot Morgan Reilly had the others for the Maple Leafs.
The Rangers weren’t with out chances of their own including a ‘gimme tap in’ that some how missed a wide open net. Nazem Kadri and Patrick Marleau both suffered similar results failing to convert empty cages.
A sloppy effort all around by the Leafs who at times looked frustrated resorting to individual play but managed to hold a late charge by the Rangers.
The Maple Leafs will file this one away pretty quick because the improving Red Wings do have some finish and looking to take advantage of a probably resting Frederik Andersen. Garret Sparks will get a chance to redeem himself after a poor showing against Detroit a few weeks ago but he hasn’t played since outside of a relief appearance in Boston.