Three Key Things: Stuart Skinner with another gem, Ryan McLeod comes up clutch, and the Leafs can’t hold leads
By Cam Lewis1 month ago
Given the way things have gone for these two teams lately, a comeback in the third period felt inevitable.
The Edmonton Oilers hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night, with the home team seeking their 11th consecutive win and the visitors looking to bust out of a slump that had seen them blow leads in back-to-back-to-back losses.
Auston Matthews put the Leafs up early in the first period and Morgan Rielly extended their lead to 2-0 in the second frame, setting the stage for another late-game implosion for Toronto. Late in the second, Leon Draisaitl cut that lead in half, and then the Oilers scored three times in the third period to complete the comeback and earn their 11th win in a row.
Never in doubt.
Stuart Skinner was a huge part of Edmonton’s win:
After allowing a goal in the first minute of the game, Skinner was nearly unbeatable the rest of the way. The only puck that got by him was the rebound that Rielly scored on in the second frame. Otherwise, Skinner was a rock for the Oilers, stopping 26 of 28 shots all told to bump his save percentage up to .903 on the season.
The best save of the night came late in the first period when Skinner robbed Pontus Holmberg of what looked like a sure one-timer goal that would have put Toronto up 2-0.
After the game, head coach Sheldon Keefe spoke about how the Leafs had plenty of chances to add to their lead but weren’t able to pull away and “take away the will of the other team.” Critical to that was the play of Skinner, as the kept the score tight and allowed the Oilers to make their comeback in the latter part of the game.
Ryan McLeod came up clutch in the third period:
When a team goes on an extended winning streak such as this one, it requires different players to come up clutch at different times. Connor McDavid has been a force for the Oilers over these 11 consecutive victories, but they’ve had a handful of depth contributions along the way that have kept this thing going.
Against the Leafs, it was Mississauga native Ryan McLeod who pushed the Oilers over the top. McLeod was moved back into the third-line centre spot and played with Derek Ryan and Mattias Janmark on his wings. That line scored the game-tying goal in the third and then McLeod got a shift on the wing alongside McDavid and he sniped the go-ahead tally.
McLeod didn’t score a goal until his 22nd game of the season, an empty-netter to seal a win over the Winnipeg Jets on November 30. Starting with that game, McLeod has scored eight goals and 14 points over 18 games, a stretch in which the Oilers have gone 15-3-0. The depth goals weren’t coming for the Oilers early in the season, but they are now.
Kris Knoblauch on the Oilers pulling off another comeback:
“It’s not easy coming from behind, especially against a good team like the Maple Leafs. But I’ve said this many times, we don’t get frustrated and we stick with the game plan. We don’t have to alter anything drastically. We don’t have to cheat on offence. We just have to work hard and make the little plays.Overall, I think we should had more goals during the game, and sometimes it doesn’t work out. Their goaltender plays well, getting the breaks, whatever it is, but we showed it many times that if we just stick with it, we have come through lately and we just have to continue doing that.”
Sheldon Keefe isn’t worried about Toronto’s losing skid:
“What has it been? Eight days? The trend is eight days?In the week before that, we won four in a row, got leads early, and took care of the game. We played mature games against Anaheim and San Jose. We played a great game against the LA Kings. That is like a week ago.My concern with this little stretch of four games in seven or eight nights… We would like to be on the right side of it, but we could only control what was in front of us tonight. The guys played a good hockey game.If we play that game over, we are going to score four or five a lot of nights. They are a great team. They are going to get their two or three. But you win this game… We had three breakaways with nothing to show for it. Bert [Tyler Bertuzzi] had a 2-on-0 tap-in with an empty net and didn’t get it. [Pontus] Holmberg got robbed on a one-timer.Before you know it, we have four, five, or six goals on some other nights. The story will be about us giving up leads, but the story to me is more about the ability to execute on these scoring chances, grow a lead, pull away, and take away the will of the other team.”
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