I’ll admit it, I was looking at this game more as an end to a miserable road trip than I was as a possibility to end a losing streak. Toronto is a deep young team and I always fear going into a place like the Air Canada Center because the noise and the crowd can make all the difference.
But I was wrong, not only was it the end of the road trip, it was the end to the losing streak as well. Of course, nothing this season has come easy so why would a win in Toronto be any different. I said it on Twitter and I will say it again, David Clarkson has continued to prove me wrong this season. I was a hater, I doubted him but he keeps coming up with these clutch moments. Hopefully now that I have admitted that I was wrong, he doesn’t stop doing it.
The Devils were on fire in the first period. They outshot the Leafs 11-4, went 2 for 2 on the PP and had a 2-0 lead going into the first intermission. But then the Devils do what they seem to do a lot this season and that was blow a 2-0 lead but we will get to more of that in a second. First I want to address the power play in the first period.
There was tremendous puck movement on the first power play opportunity. At one point, all 5 Devils touch the puck with Clarkson alone in the slot just missing. I believe it went Kovalchuk to Larrson to Elias down low to Parise who fed a beauty to Clarkson in the slot but Reimer was able to get a piece. EVERYTHING was done perfectly on that play, Reimer is just a beast. Immediately after, Sykora found Kovalchuk with a cross ice pass who buried the one timer. If Kovalchuk would do that just a little more often, I would write articles like I did the other day about the man.
Elias then found Clarkson alone in front of the net on the next power play opportunity who pulled Reimer out of position and easily buried the puck for a 2-0 lead. All the sudden, the worst PP in the league was 2 for 2.
But as I mentioned, the Devils would do what they’ve been doing all season. The Leafs started to tilt the ice in the second period and the Devils just sat back a little and let them come. I don’t know why we do this. I don’t know why we think we can weather the storm because it bites us time and time again. This time, Kessel closed the gap and made the score 2-1. It was a crazy goal because everyone was crashing the net and the puck went off his boot.
Starting the third period, I didn’t feel very confident that the Devils could hold the lead because they’ve proved they can’t and the Leafs are a deep team with many threats. Matt Frattin tied the game at 1:56 of the 3rd. So when I say that the Leafs have many threats, Frattin wasn’t one that came to mind but none the less, it’s a 2-2 game and the Leafs have really taken control of this game.
Clarkson had a chance to win it late in the 3rd when he found himself alone with the puck and no one but Reimer in front of him but he just couldn’t bury it. There was a moment at the end of the game that just really aggravated me and it’s something that Kovalchuk does A LOT. He mishandled the puck and coughed it up to the other team and basically stood there and watched as the other team got an opportunity to put the puck in the net. He made little effort to try and stop that guy.
Clarkson would redeem himself in OT and as took a feed from Zubrus and buried it past Reimer for the game winner ending the Devils losing streak. Good night for Clarkson who had 2 goals, another huge opportunity and did this in front of his friends and family and against the team he grew up loving. A huge night and moment for Clarkson.
I thought Marty was much better tonight and redeemed himself a little for the game he had in Winnipeg. He made a HUGE save on Kessel in the first that they kept replaying all game and proved to be huge once Toronto tied it at 2.
Next up are the Senators tomorrow night at the Rock.