The Leafs’ five-game winning streak came to a crashing halt on Saturday night with a 4-0 loss on home ice to the New York Islanders. Much of the storyline preceding the game was the appearance of John Tavares for the first time against his former team. Tavares co-led the Leafs with five shots on goal, and won 15 of 19 faceoffs (79%), but still saw his six-game point streak come to an end.
- In the absence of any positive on-ice performance, it was a nice gesture by the Leafs to honour former teammates Leo Komarov and Matt Martin with a scoreboard tribute during a timeout in the first period.
Thank you Leo and Matt. pic.twitter.com/oTzyZwnA9h
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) December 30, 2018
- A harbinger of how the Leafs’ defence would perform on the night came on the opening goal, when both Travis Dermott and Igor Ozhiganov missed the check on Valteri Filppula, granting the Islanders’ forward a clear lane to snipe the puck past Garret Sparks.
- Sparks had a mediocre 24-save outing, looking less confident between the pipes than he did 24 hours earlier in his victory over Columbus. A groin injury to Frederik Andersen necessitated Sparks’s second consecutive start. Kasimir Kaskisuo was recalled on an emergency basis from the Marlies to be the backup goalie.
- Mathew Barzal scored a natural hat trick in the second period to propel the Islanders to victory. Ron Hainsey was on the ice for each of Barzal’s first two goals, looking out of place in trying to neutralize last year’s Calder Trophy winner.
- Not to be outdone, Jake Gardiner made a bad pinch that resulted in a 2-on-1 leading to Barzal’s hat trick-clinching goal.
- An all points bulletin may soon be issued for one Nylander, William. Last seen in the spring of 2018. The player who signed a $6.969 million annual deal on December 1, and who wore number 29 on the ice on Saturday night must be an imposter; he looks nowhere close to the sniper that Leafs fans have been accustomed to seeing .
In 2016, Rob wrote “Hockey’s Enforcers: A Dying Breed”, now available at Chapters and Indigo stores everywhere.