For the most part, the annual Hockey Hall of Fame game was rather unspectacular, but the sellout crowd Air Canada Centre was treated to a thrilling finish.
The Maple Leafs fought back from a one-goal deficit in the final minute of regulation and went on to defeat the Boston Bruins 3-2 in overtime. Patrick Marleau fired home the winner at 1:07 of the extra session, tapping in Jake Gardiner’s slap pass on a Leafs odd-man rush for the winner. For his efforts, Marleau was named the game’s most valuable player.
“Patty Marleau got his 101st game-winner – he’s got to be in the Hall of Fame, doesn’t he?” coach Mike Babcock said to reporters after the game.
Overtime was made possible when James van Riemsdyk knotted his second goal of the game with just sixty seconds left in regulation time and goaltender Frederik Andersen on the Leafs’ bench. van Riemsdyk, stationed in front of the Boston net, tipped Mitch Marner’s centring pass to beat goalie Anton Khudobin for the equalizer.
On a night when the game’s greatest legends were honoured, the first half of the game was a snooze-fest, devoid of energy from either side. Leafs nemesis Patrice Bergeron finally opened the scoring at 15:38 of the second period following a setup from Brad Marchand.
van Riemsdyk tied the game in the dying seconds of the middle frame as both he and Nazem Kadri were both able to dig the puck out of a goal crease scrum on a Leafs power play.
Boston got the go-ahead goal from David Pastrnak on a power play with 5:30 left in the third period. The tally appeared that it would hold up as the game-winner before van Riemsdyk’s and Marleau’s heroics.
Marner finished with two assists and Andersen made 33 saves in the win.
“Seemed like we were pretty organized doing some of that stuff and seemed like our line had some good jump, getting pucks back and doing a good job breaking out of our own end tonight,” van Riemsdyk said. “I think when we’re playing at our best, we’re breaking out and not getting bogged down.”