Hockey’s a cruel sport sometimes…Leafs fall short in Raleigh: Muzzy’s Muzings

I hate moral victories, but in this case I think it’s acceptable.

Make no mistake, the Leafs deserved a better fate Saturday night in Raleigh.

Sebastian Aho’s goal late in the third was the difference as Carolina slipped past Toronto 5-3. With the loss, the Leafs fell to 2-2-0 on their five-game road trip that will end Sunday night in Nashville.

After losing 2-0 just 10 minutes into the game, the Leafs dominated the rest of the game. But two points are two points. Overall, no harm, no foul for Sheldon Keefe and co. Tampa lost in Boston Saturday afternoon, meaning Toronto is still five points ahead of the Bolts with two games in hand for second place in the Atlantic to reach division.

Auston Matthews had another monster outing. He scored Nos. 35 and 36 goals and now has eight in his last nine games and ten in 13. In addition, he racked up a paltry 15 shots on goal, which set a team record in a single game. Get the guy a steak and a protein shake.

Meanwhile, Mitch Marner provided an assist to extend his points streak to nine games. Ho-hum. Also, Calle Jarnkrok reached his 18th seasonth of the year and Morgan Rielly brought two helpers together. Matt Murray made 23 stops.

Overall, the Leafs clinched four points out of a possible six (2-1-0) against the Canes in their season series with the Metro Division leaders.



The Leafs conceded their first goal for the first time in nine games. The early 5v3 didn’t help, that’s for sure. Additionally, when they got their legs, they found themselves in a rush with 2 Cobb. I won’t lie, the first 10 minutes were a tough time. Still, I thought they finally started skating in the second half of the opening frame, and unsurprisingly, that resulted in an increase in scoring chances. Look, the Canes are a good team and that’s a tough barn to play in. You won’t have it every night. Not that I would give them a pass, but it is what it is. Let’s get straight to the playoffs.

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Again, the Leafs deserve a lot of credit for figuring things out after a rocky start. After Staal’s 2-0 goal, it was all about the Leafs for the rest of the evening. Additionally, there was actually a 15-minute stretch in the game where Carolina didn’t register a shot on goal and Toronto had 17 in a row. Talk about flipping the script! Who knows what happens later in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but the Leafs have had a lot of sustained stretches against the Canes during their three regular-season meetings. Carolina has played really hard against them in recent years, so it was fun to see Toronto bring it to them this season.


The Jarnkrok-Matthews-Marner trio is starting to gain momentum in earnest. They were outstanding on Saturday night. Yes, we’ve seen every line combination imaginable of late, but it’s hard to overlook the chemistry that has been brewing in recent outings. Overall, it’s safe to say that Jarnkrok exceeded expectations as the Maple Leaf in Season #1. He was awesome. He has 18 points and 36 points, both of which are career highs, by the way. It’s hard not to love when the depth players step in. In many ways, Jarnkrok has filled the same type of role that Artturi Lehkonen played with Colorado last year when he was transferred from Montreal around the trade deadline. Jarnkrok’s versatility is one such asset.


Sometimes you just have to save. And unfortunately, Matt Murray, who was struggling hard to fend off a hectic first phase of work, couldn’t find a way to pull off that save – on two occasions. Firstly, I think that Stefan Noesen deserves a lot of credit for this second effort after the all-around. That said — not that I’m Mr. Goalie Expert — but Murray was caught swimming that game. I don’t know what to say… that goal just stung me. Also, the rebound control on the Aho winner was just awful. They played so well and just couldn’t make the crucial save when it counted. Ultimately, these can make all the difference in playoff time. Sorry if I’m too hard on Murray – it is what it is.

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The Leafs will wrap up their five-game road trip Sunday night when they visit the Nashville Predators. Toronto won their first meeting with the Predators on January 11, 2-1th.

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