Seven-minute defensive lapse costs Leafs
(Tyler Bozak finished a nifty passing play for lone Leafs goal)
Mar. 14: Leafs 1 vs. Penguins 3
Forward lines: van Riemsdyk-Bozak-Kessel, Frattin-Grabovski-Komarov, MacArthur-Kadri-Kulemin, McLaren-McClement-Orr
Defence pairings: Phaneuf-Holzer, Gunnarsson-Liles, Franson-Fraser
Goaltenders: Scrivens (Loss, 59:08 minutes played, 25 saves, 2 GA), Reimer (0:00), (empty net, 1 GA)
Prior to last Saturday, Sidney Crosby hadn’t played at Air Canada Centre in more than three years. After scoring a goal and the shootout winner five days ago, it looks like the game’s most dominant player was making up for lost time, as far as his output in the city of Toronto goes.
Crosby’s behind the back pass to linemate Pascal Dupuis highlighted the Penguins tying goal with just over seven minutes remaining in the third period, and was the catalyst in Pittsburgh’s 3-1 comeback win over the Leafs at Air Canada Centre on Thursday. The loss was the Leafs’ fourth consecutive defeat.
“He’s the best player in the world for a reason, and his wingers are playing great hockey,” said Leafs forward Tyler Bozak. “Their whole line is playing unbelievably right now.” Dupuis had the eventual game-winner with just 2:10 remaining in regulation assisted by left-winger Chris Kunitz, who entered the game third in the NHL in scoring.
“Fundamentally we made defensive breakdowns that cost us the hockey game,” said Leafs coach Randy Carlyle. “For 53 minutes of the game, we did a lot things really well. But at a critical point in the game, there were some flaws in the defensive zone coverage.” The pairing of Dion Phaneuf and Korbinian Holzer had a rough outing, being on the ice for both Penguins tallies that occurred with goalie Ben Scrivens in net.
Craig Adams sealed the game with an empty-netter.
Bozak was the only Leaf to beat Penguins netminder Marc-Andre Fleury, finishing a creative tic-tac-toe play with Phil Kessel and Cody Franson.
Defenceman John-Michael Liles was reinserted into the lineup after missing the last twelve games as a healthy scratch. “I felt fine, I though (Anthony) Belza our strength coach kept me in great shape. I felt pretty good. Unfortunately it’s a loss,” said Liles.
“I thought we played well, I thought we played hard. I thought the energy was there, and we generated some chances. It’s just a couple of little things we did late in the game, but they’re a good team and they capitalized.”
The Leafs probably deserved a better fate than a regulation loss, producing a better performance than last Saturday’s shootout loss where they at least earned a point in the standings. Jay McClement was solid on the penalty kill that has now killed 53 of 58 chances in the last eighteen games. Defenceman Mark Fraser showed no mercy in laying the body on Crosby in the second period.
But when Crosby’s team comes to town, anything less than a 60-minute effort is a recipe for defeat.
See Bruins, Boston.
Rob Del Mundo is the author of Off The Post, and is a regular columnist at TMLfans.ca
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