Even though Groundhog Day is still over two weeks away, Leafs coach Mike Babcock is seeing the same bad habits from his team, over and over.
Before a packed house at Air Canada Centre on Tuesday night, Toronto not only surrendered the game-tying goal with 57 seconds left in regulation, but also watched St. Louis defenceman Vince Dunn net the overtime winner to clinch the victory for the Blues.
Dunn fired the shot past Frederik Andersen on a two-on-one rush after Mitch Marner – overzealous in his pursuit of the puck – lost the gamble. “I was just trying to take away a reverse to Tarasenko and kind of slowed up – kind of read it wrong,” Marner said. “They got an odd-man rush and it obviously didn’t go in our favour.
Alex Steen had scored the equalizer with St. Louis netminder Carter Hutton on the bench in favour of a sixth skater.
Despite having a stronger start as opposed to their customary lethargic first period offerings, the Leafs ultimately repeated their habitual pattern of failing to contain the opposition in the dying moments of regulation.
Last Thursday versus Ottawa? Tom Pyatt scores late in the third period to win the game for the Senators.
The game before that, against Columbus? Toronto can’t hold a 3-2 lead, and lose on an overtime goal by Artemi Panarin.
All that’s missing is weatherman Phil Connors, and Punxsutawney Phil.
Andersen had a solid outing despite the loss, and the lone Leafs’ offensive highlight was Connor Brown’s shorthanded goal after the forward outraced Blues defender Alex Pietrangelo to the puck, then beating Hutton on a breakaway.
“I thought we played a good game,” Brown said. “I mean, a lot of the game was played in the neutral zone. Aside from a few hiccups, we didn’t give too much up off the rush, stayed patient, had one and probably should have closed it out.”