Maple Leafs win but lose Andersen in game against Stars
The Toronto Maple Leafs lost their star goaltender Frederik Andersen with an upper body injury Wednesday, but the team hunkered down to win a see-saw game in a shootout against a desperate Dallas Stars.
Toronto was well rested coming into the game against the Stars, playing only two games in 10 days and having won their last 10 home games. The Dallas Stars, desperately trying to reach the final playoff wildcard spot, played the night before and limped away with a 4-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.
In a sub-plot, the game was the NHL debut for forward Andreas Johnsson after producing 54 points in 54 games with the Toronto Marlies. Mike Babcock, coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, feels the depth of his team is unbelievable and Johnsson is a part of that.
“Get out there and enjoy it, you’ve spent your whole life dreaming of this. Dreams do come true if you work hard enough and you have enough passion,” Babcock told Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.
Babcock said Leafs’ General Manager Lou Lamoriello “must have seen something enough times that he wanted you to come here, myself, and so we will look at him and see what he does.”
Johnsson started his first shift off with a bang, as he went straight to the forecheck creating loose pucks in the offensive zone. The rest of the Maple Leafs played with the same energy to start the game and their speed took overwhelmed Dallas in the early going.
Nazem Kadri was the first to put a goal up on the scoreboard on a blooper made by Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen. The puck was rolling clockwise and as Lehtonen went to pass the puck to his defencemen, Kadri came in with a poke check that put it home.
Dejection followed embarrassment as the Leafs continued to press the Stars as James van Riemsdyk put the puck in the back of the net to make it a 2-0 game. The look of the Stars players right after the goal was shock and the bench was very quiet.
But Alexander Radulov wasn’t having any of it, taking it in his own hands to turn the game around by giving rookie Johnsson a greeting that sent the newcomer to the locker room for a few stitches. He continued to stir up problems while battling in front of Toronto’s net with Roman Polak.
Radulov would then fall on top of Andersen’s head and legs.
Polak and Radulov headed off to the penalty box after a shoving match, continuing to yell at each other and generally causing a scene in the penalty box. But Radulov’s efforts clearly stoked the Stars as they responded with a goal.
Radulov would rise in the sin box after the goal staring at Polak while banging his stick on the glass in celebration.
The Stars would tie the game shortly after, and momentum shift was felt in the ACC as Toronto was on its heels. The Stars had awaken as the first period ended and they continued that push into the second. Tyler Seguin, a player who Toronto fans still cringe over after the trade for Phil Kessel, put the Stars in the lead with a goal four and a half minutes into the second.
Just when Maple Leaf fans thought things couldn’t get worse, Andersen pulled himself out of the game with an upper body injury half way through the second. He did not return and backup goalie Curtis McElhinney came in.
The Stars would capitalize on the McElhinney’s late introduction into the game with winger Remi Elie putting the puck past him to make it 4-2
As the third period started something must have been said in the locker room during the break.
The Maple Leafs looked like a brand new squad, using the young legs and speed, tying the game with a pair of goals from James van Riemsdyk, his third career hat trick.
But the Stars were still burning hot, taking the lead three minutes later. Brett Ritchie would put the puck into the wide-open net after receiving a nice pass from Seguin. That made it 26 points against the Maple Leafs in as many games for Tyler Seguin.
The Leafs however refused to give up and pulled McEhlinney to give them the extra attacker.
The Stars couldn’t get a line change in, icing the puck with 30 seconds left in the third, keeping the exhausted line on the ice. Toronto kept pushing the Stars in its zone, which created the opportunity for the Leafs to bang it home when Patrick Marleau redirected a shot by Mitch Marner to tie it with 15 seconds left in the game.
Overtime solved nothing, and the Stars and Maple Leafs were off to a shootout. Seguin and Radulov provided nothing while Tyler Bozak scored and Marner snuffed the Stars’ with a shot that got past Lehtonen..
The Leafs’ win was left a question as to what happened to Andersen and how long he may be lost as the playoffs approach.
“I haven’t even asked yet, but it sure didn’t seem like much,” Babcock told media after the game. “You know he played right after he got hurt so I don’t know exactly, but it’s an upper body injury.”