We consider the main talking points from the Toronto Maple Leafs’ barely conceivable 4-3 comeback win in Game 4 against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The season was over for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Media and fans alike were preparing to perform a post-mortem on another promising but ultimately disappointing campaign.
Then it all turned around, in the most surreal of circumstances. Almost in the blink of an eye, the Leafs came storming back to win in stunning fashion.
The importance of the comeback remains to be seen, i.e. has it just delayed another first stage elimination or will it spur the Leafs on to greater things? For now though, let’s look back on a truly extraordinary night, with our three takeaways from Game 4:
1) Toronto Maple Leafs prove their mental fortitude under pressure
Leafs fans will never forget the stunning Game 7 capitulation against the Boston Bruins at the end of the 2012-13 season. The team gave up a 4-1 lead with just under 11 minutes remaining in the third period, to ultimately lose the game and the series in overtime.
While not as fatal, the Game 3 loss to the Blue Jackets on Thursday night inspired a similar feeling of hopelessness, as they again gave up a seemingly insurmountable three-goal lead. However, now fans have their own stunning comeback win to reminisce over and in reality, it was even less likely.
When Boone Jenner made it 3-0 at the 14:18 mark of the third, it was over. Finished. However, then something remarkable happened which still seems barely believable.
William Nylander made it 3-1 with just under four minutes remaining, with what seemed like a token goal in a losing effort. However, when John Tavares roofed a second goal just 51 seconds later, the unrealistic hope of coming back suddenly turned into a genuine possibility.
The Leafs were galvanised, pouring forward like a team possessed to tie up the game and force overtime. And they somehow managed to achieve just that with only 23 seconds left, as Zach Hyman picked the perfect moment to score his first goal of the play-in series.
After that there was only going to be one winner, as the Blue Jackets were shell-shocked from giving up a three-goal lead in the final 3:57 minutes. Auston Matthews duly obliged at the 13:10 mark of the first overtime period, to complete the remarkable comeback.
More than that though, the Leafs’ young roster displayed the mental fortitude critics believed they didn’t possess. Ahead of Game 4, we described it as a defining moment, and the team stepped up to make it a positive one.
It’s unclear how the series is going to play out. (More on this shortly.) Regardless, the Leafs made their fans proud, as they proved they do have the toughness and desire to fight back when all hope seems lost.