The Arizona Coyotes defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 at home Tuesday night, snapping the Leafs three game winning streak in the process.
The Leafs really only have themselves to blame for this defeat. The players were asleep for the first period and most of the second. The Leafs were outshot 10-3 in the first period alone.
The only Leaf player that looked focused on winning was goalie James Reimer. Reimer stood on his head to give his team a chance, fought through screens, and made 30 saves on the night. But no amount of saves could make up for the Leafs lack of determination or lazy start to the game.
The Coyotes did a wonderful job using their speed to beat the Leafs to the puck. As a result, defenseman Jake Gardiner and forward James van Reimsdyk turned the puck over and cost their team goals.
That three goal burst by the Coyotes early in the game and a sensational performance by Coyotes goalie Mike Smith gave Arizona the victory. Smith made 28 saves on the night, including several key saves on the penalty kill. Forwards Sam Gagner and Martin Erat both won puck battles and scored goals. Antoine Vermette tracked the puck, capitalized on a turnover and scored a beautiful wrap around goal to seal the victory for the Coyotes.
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However, the Coyotes aren’t without mistakes of their own. A few careless penalties and a non-existent penalty kill almost allowed Toronto to complete the comeback late in the game. Captain Dion Phaneuf led the charge, scoring his first goal of the season late in the second period. Defenseman Cody Franson scored a powerplay goal in the third period to cut the lead to one late in the game. Fortunately for Arizona fans though, the Coyotes were able to hold on for the win.
For the Leafs, this game is more than just a loss. Even if they would’ve completed the comeback, head Coach Randy Carlyle would’ve been the first to say that his team didn’t deserve that win.None of the players looked like they even wanted to play at all.
The only consolation for Carlyle is that Reimer played well and Phaneuf scored his first goal of the year. Besides that, this game was a train wreck for the Maple Leafs. If this team hopes to challenge for a playoff spot this year, the players are going to have to find a way to start strong and eliminate the turnovers in the defensive end. If they don’t do that, it’s going to be a long, painful season for the team and their fans.