Kadri, Lupul Lead Leafs to Victory in Boston
There is no doubt that this Leafs team is showing new levels of determination and poise not seen in recent seasons. Typically, by this point we have written off the season as the Leafs finish a late push often referred to as 'garbage time', and we as fans either await the arrival of a high pick, or curse the ground Burke walks on for trading the same for Phil Kessel.
So what's different? Well, by now, the Leafs are usually mathematically eliminated. Games at this point have been played by rookie prospects just to give them some motivation, and the only stat that matters is the draft position. With less than a handful of games to go, they haven't quit. Nobody is taking shifts off as garbage time has become gut-check time, and every game is a make-or-break scenario.
Thursday night in Boston was no different. Facing this year's uncontested Vezina favourite, the task at hand was to win their third straight after being virtually owned by Boston since kessel crossed the floor and changed colours.
Luke Schenn got a little help from former teammate Tomas Kaberle who inadvertently redirected his shot past Tim Thomas for the stalwart defender's 5th of the season.
The B's roared back with two quick goals from Marchand and Krejci, just one minute and one second apart to take the lead before Joffrey Lupul notched it up with Kessel getting the helper on a goal that eneded up standing after video review.
Andrew Ferrence restored the home team's lead, which they took into the dressing room after two, but not until Jay Rosehill stood up for Mike Komisarek going toe-to-toe with 30-goal scoring prize-fighter Milan Lucic in a long, thrilling scrap that saw both men scoring points for blows landed.
The Lupul-Kessel tandem struck again in the third period,with their second goal and assist respectively, to tie the game at three.
Despite a controversial OT period that included a weak penalty shot for Mikhail Grabovski, then a slashing minor to Lupul with just a minute-five to go in the extra frame, the game ended in a shootout with newbie Nazem Kadri scoring the lone marker for the visitor's victory. Kadri's goal resembled the Colby Armstrong shootout winner from earlier in the season, dubeed the 'rubber chicken surprise', or something close-to.
This game was marked by a team showing solidarity and confidence in equal measures, which is exactly what they'll need to do to keep their playoff hopes alive for one more day...
Follow me on Twitter: @Odurkin