By: Adam Basciano
Winning two games back to back is always difficult for any team, doing so in two opposing teams buildings during their home openers is even harder. However, that’s exactly what the Toronto Maple Leafs did in the self-proclaimed ” La belle province” and “The City of Brotherly Love.”
In Montreal, the Maple Leafs started off on the right foot with a power-play goal by James van Riemsdyk, with assists going to Cody Franson and Phil Kessel. Play on the ice would get extremely sloppy by both teams. Montreal would take advantage of some lackluster defensive play from the Leafs, and leave the period with a one goal lead. The Leafs would tie the game at two, courtesy of a beautifully placed shot by Captain Dion Phaneuf, with assists going to Nazem Kadri and Nikolai Kulemin. In my opinion, there are 3 main advantages to having resigned Tyler Bozak. He’s good on face-offs, he has great on ice chemistry with Phil Kessel, and he has an incredible knack for scoring shootout/short-handed goals. His first goal of the season came in the form of a great individual effort on a shorthanded breakaway. The lead would be expanded to two goals, as Mason Raymond used his speed to create an odd man rush and capitalized on an odd bounce. A series of fights in the third period would lead to Montreal tough guy George Parros accidentally falling and hitting his face on the ice, a scary incident that could have ended severely worse than a concussion. Montreal would eventual score a late goal, but the Maple Leafs hung on to a 4-3 victory thanks to strong timely goaltending from James Reimer.
The next night the Leafs found themselves in the aforementioned “City of Brotherly Love,” to play a team full of goons. For the first period and a half the Maple Leafs were dominated in every area on the ice by the Philadelphia Flyers! Jonathan Bernier’s out of this world goaltending kept the deficit at one goal, until birthday boy Phil Kessel capitalized on a rebound off of a Dion Phaneuf shot. I know, I know… I mentioned Dion Phaneuf in a positive light twice in one blog. No you’re not living in the Bizarro world, and no the world is not ending! The other reason for the Blue & White leaving Philadelphia with two points was their penalty killing. They killed 7/8 against the Flyers and 10/11 for the season. Securing the 3-1 win for Toronto, was Dave Bolland who with his two goal performance, redefined the phrase “Johnny on the spot.” One could make a case and say Jonathan Bernier stole the two points for the team on this night.
With two road games out-of-the-way, the Maple Leafs head back to Toronto for their home opener against provincial rivals, the Ottawa Senators.