It was a game that could have been a Toronto Maple Leafs’ victory. The team had taken the lead in the third period and was on a power play. Bam – it goes the other way for a short-handed goal and the game was tied.
After that, it didn’t take long in overtime for the Vegas Golden Knights to seal a 4-3 victory with – go figure – yet another breakaway for a quick game-ending goal.
In this edition of Maple Leafs’ takeaways, I’ll share the three biggest takeaways from the game from Toronto’s perspective. However, before I engage those three takeaways, I’ll share how funny perspective is.
A week ago from tonight – last Tuesday – if the team would have taken seven points out of the eight points possible in four games, that would have seemed amazing. The Maple Leafs won three of those tough games and lost the fourth in overtime. Somehow, funny as it is, from this side of the week it seems not good enough.
Takeaway One: Erik Kallgren Continues to Play Well, Even in a Loss
Young goalie Erik Kallgren was this season, just as he was last season, pushed into game action with the team’s two starting goalies – Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov – out with injuries. He lost the game; but, as it was in other starts, it certainly wasn’t all his fault.
The bottom line is that the team lost, but Kallgren made some great saves. Although his team was trailing 2-1 in the first period, he kept them at that score by stopping three separate breakaways. On the night, he stopped four of the five breakaways he faced. As it turned out, it was one too few.
But Kallgren kept his team in a position to win the game; and, eventually he helped them come away with a point.
Takeaway Two: Timothy Liljegren, Two Goals Minus One
On the night, Timothy Liljegren scored twice. His first goal of the game (and of the season) came on an assist from David Kampf in the first period. His second goal of the game (and his second of the season) came on a nice no-look pass from Mitch Marner.
But then there was his turnover that led to Jack Eichel’s first-period goal to put the Golden Knights up by a 2-1 score. After the game, Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe noted how pleased he was to see Liljegren’s second goal after his turnover cost the team a first-period goal.
Keefe noted that, “For young players (like Liljegren), you want them to keep their confidence and not get rattled by such a thing. To me, he just continued to play the game.”
That’s two goals in three games for the young rear guard. He seems to have a ton of confidence. That bodes well for Liljegren and for the team.
Takeaway Three: The Team Made Costly Mistakes
In the end, the Maple Leafs lost this game because they made more errors on the ice than the Golden Knights. In addition, the Golden Knights took advantage of the mistakes.
The box score suggests that the Maple Leafs controlled the game with 31 shots on the net to the Golden Knights 20. In fact, once the second period rolled around, the Maple Leafs took over the game and eventually took a 3-2 lead. The team then made a mistake on a power play and (overall) gave up too make breakouts to the Golden Knights.
In the end, the Maple Leafs seemed to squander perhaps the best game Mitch Marner had played all season.
Still, as I noted earlier, last week the results of these four games would have been accepted with a smile. It’s time for the team to keep smiling. A lot of things are going right.
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