The Toronto Maple Leafs: Duck Hunters Extraordinaire

William Wilson March 11, 2014 18
The Toronto Maple Leafs celebrate a goal against the Anaheim DucksHarry How/Getty Images

I’m sure this title has already been used in a thousand different ways by other writers, but let’s be honest: it’s a fun title and it allows Leafs Nation a small moment of celebration.

As I mentioned yesterday, the Toronto Maple Leafs find themselves travelling through California right now to play all three of the local teams. The Leafs played their first game last night in Anaheim where they beat the league-leading Ducks 3-1. Hence, the title of this story.

It was another big night for Toronto’s top line after they took a rare night off against the Philadelphia Flyers late last week. Tyler Bozak led the charge, collecting 1 goal and 2 assists, while linemate and roommate Phil Kessel put up identical numbers. These guys have matured into quite the tandem, no?

Bozak opened the scoring at 16:51 in the first period. Kessel recorded his goal less than three minutes later, giving the Leafs an impressive 2-0 lead to start the game.

(Coincidentally, for those interested, I also recently wrote about the surge in Bozak‘s play.)

For his part, Jonathan Bernier stopped 43 of 44 shots to earn his 25th win of the season. It seems fair to say he was a big part of the Leafs’ overall success on the night.

The win also propelled Toronto into third place in the Eastern Conference. They now sit one point above the Montreal Canadiens; both teams have played 66 games. (Do you remember when people – myself included – were worried that the Leafs would fall out of the playoff picture?)

As a side note, the game was head coach Randy Carlyle’s first visit to Anaheim since the Ducks fired him in late 2011. I’m can guarantee you that he relished the win!

Despite travelling across the continent for last night’s game, the Leafs won’t get a moment to rest. They return to action tonight against the San Jose Sharks - another top-tier team in the NHL. Given the condensed schedule, it seems fair to assume that James Reimer will get the start tonight.

I wonder what tastes better: duck or shark? We’ll find out tonight.

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