Toronto Maple Leafs: Offence carries the load in comeback win

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 10: James van Riemsdyk
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 10: James van Riemsdyk /

It was an up and down game for the Toronto Maple Leafs and the offence, as James van Riemsdyk notched his third career hat-trick.

When the Dallas Stars scored three unanswered goals, things were looking bleak for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Then James van Riemsdyk and Mitch Marner decided to take charge iin a 6-5 shootout victory. 

Down 4-2 heading into the third period, van Riemsdyk would even things up with two goals, one of which was set up by a brilliant move on the powerplay by Marner. However, Brett Ritchie put Dallas ahead again in a game where they needed the two points in a tight Western Conference playoff race.

Unfortunately for the Stars, the Leafs were relentless on in the third period especially when they were trailing in the final minutes. Once again, it was Marner who came up big putting the puck on net, which Patrick Marleau was able to deflect past Kari Lehtonen.

Of course the big story from the game was Frederik Andersen leaving in the second period with what the team is calling an upper-body injury. While any injury to the starting goalie would not be ideal, the team could afford to give Andersen the next couple of games off with them playing the Buffalo Sabres then hosting the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.

It will be much easier if the offence can continue to perform at the same level that it has the past couple of games. It also helps that Curtis McElhinney continues to answer the call and either one of Garret Sparks or Calvin Pickard can fill a short-term need.

At this point, the defence is going to have their struggles, but the team has relied on its offence and strong goaltending to carry them. The only thing the team would have liked to be in the hunt for is second place in the Atlantic Division and home ice advantage in the first round, given how they have played at home the past 11 games.

Despite the dominance at home, the latest road trip did not help them try to keep pace, although this is not the end of the world.

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The Boston Bruins took advantage of their games in hand as they have a seven point lead on the Leafs and still have two in hand. With 12 games remaining, it would be tough to expect Toronto to narrow the gap considering how Boston has played, even without Patrice Bergeron or Charlie McAvoy in the lineup.

So at this point, the Leafs would benefit from improving their play on the road and they will get a good test next week, with trips to Tampa Bay and Nashville on the schedule.

Next: Leafs expected to have new ECHL affiliate in St. John’s

Are you concerned about Andersen’s injury? Can the Leafs’ offence continue to score at the rate that they are? Let us know in the comments below.