The Maple Leafs continue to make headway this season, and last night’s comeback was testament to their “never give up” attitude after Tavares scored late in the third to force overtime and give Toronto the extra time needed to get the job done.
After a brutal back and forth overtime period Kasperi Kapanen was due to get off the ice but found himself in possession of the puck and heading into the Detroit Red Wings zone before cutting across the zone and flicked off a shot as he was tumbled to the ice.
To his and John Tavares surprise and delight, the puck slipped past the pads of Jonathon Bernier to give Toronto a 5-4 overtime win and their fourth straight win. Kapanen, who has scored 14 goals so far this season, spoke to the media saying,
“I was huffing and puffing,” said Kapanen, who already has 14 goals this season after scoring just eight in his first 55 NHL games. “Lucky enough it went in.”
Also scoring last night for the Toronto Maple Leafs was Morgan Reilly, who scored once and earned two assists, John Tavares and Frederik Gauthier. John Tavares, Travis Dermott and Jake Gardiner. Tavares, Dermott, Gardiner, Andreas Johnsson, Nazem Kadri, Par Lindholm, Auston Matthews and Trevor More each earned assists.
Detroit’s Christopher Ehn scored for the Red Wings, as did Filip Hronek, Frans Nielsen and Michael Rasmussen. Tyler Bertuzzi, Nick Jensen, Niklas Kronwall, Dylan Larkin and Wade Megan earned assists.
Tavares, who rushed the net as Kapanen tipped the puck created a block for Jonathan Bernier. Tavares nearly scored a minute into the overtime period after picking up a pass from Mitch Marner but his shot went high. Bernier, commenting on the play said,
“I saw the puck from the point, but there’s no chance I can react to that,” Bernier said of the equalizer. “It was a hell of a tip.”
The Leads and Red Wings were tired 3-3 for nearly 40 minutes before Detroit scored for a 4-3 lead, but the Maple Leafs never gave up and with an extra man on the ice after pulled Garret Sparks, John Tavares scored with 7.6 seconds remaining on the clock to force overtime.
After leading 2-1 for the first period and half of the second, the Red Wings went up 3-1 after a shot be Christopher Ehn fought off Toronto defence and sent a backhand past Sparks. That seemed to give Toronto the fuel they needed to dig deep and find the energy to capitalize on scoring opportunities, and it didn’t take long.
Just past the midway point of the second, Frederik Gauthier made it 3-2, and less than a minute later, Morgan Reilly tied the game 3-3. Detroit took back the lead with just under 8 minutes remaining in the third and looked like they would come away with the win that was until John Tavares tied in the final seconds of regulation time. After Kasperi Kapanen‘s overtime goal, and his second of the night, Coach Babcock stated,
“I like the resiliency when we need it. I wish we didn’t have to use it. The season’s 82 games and when you look at it at the end, the teams that win lots win 3-2, they come back, they find ways to win. That’s what good teams do. It’s not perfect every night.”
The Maple Leafs will resume their regular schedule on the road when they meet the Columbus Blue Jackets on the 28th before returning home to welcome the New York Islanders on the 29th. Detroit will have a short Christmas break and resume play on the 27th in Pittsburgh before meeting the Dallas Stars on the 29th.