BY: Jeff Schneberk
While wearing those same weird-looking jerseys that they wore in the Winter Classic last month in Michigan, those Leafs did what they are being known for doing really really well, and that would be leaving all of LeafsNation sitting on the edge of our seats for the better part of 3/4s of the game then getting their shit together, just in time.
One of those matches where they go up against a team they should be able to kick the shit out of (Vancouver lost six straight going into Toronto last night) but guess who got the game’s opening goal?
Despite Leafs outshooting Vancouver 8-1 at one point in the first period, it was Ryan Kesler scoring one of those goals that goes in only by mistake. Goaltender Jonathan Bernier obviously should have had it and judging by his body language when he saw the puck go in, he wanted to beat himself up for it. Jake Gardiner stuck his stick out to do…something, then it went up, then down, hit Bernier’s blocker then kinda bounced into the net.
The goal shouldn’t have been too hard to take however, it seemed one of those games like I mentioned above where Leafs probably aren’t going to score just yet. Anyways Gardiner took some shots from Don Cherry too for getting his stick in the way of the Kesler shot but it’s no big deal A) because Toronto came back to win after an amazing third period, and B) Cherry already knows how good Gardiner is.
The second frame was the closest thing to boring that we saw last night but the third brought back some Saturday night magic and guess who tied up the game? Former Canuck Mason Raymond with a beauty goal. Skated a wraparound but came out from behind the net and went near the top of the slot and just roofed one to Roberto Luongo’s glove hand (near side). Tie game 1-1.
Then Phil the Thrill Kessel got in on the scoring, and also got a Gordie Howe hat trick but never got credit for it. In the second period he got into it with Alexandre Burrows but they weren’t assessed fighting majors, but roughing instead. I’ve seen worse from these refs so surprised they didn’t just give them majors. Kessel, as he has been doing all year long, scoring goals, setting them up, he and Burrows got into in during their last meeting in Vancouver this season.
Anyways Kessel scored another one of those signature goals last night, picking the corner from just inside the blue line while in full motion, that’s not an easy thing to do. James van Riemsdyk finished the scoring last night to complete the 3-1 Leaf win, and cap a very exciting third period.
Toronto now goes into the Olympic break with an unreal record of 11-2-1, not bad for a team whom everyone wanted Kadri traded and Carlyle fired eh?
For the next two weeks or so we all go from cheering for our NHL teams to cheering for the same team, Team Canada.