One hundred and ninety-eight days. That's how long it's been since Leaf fans were able to celebrate a regular season win. That's how long it's been since we've known what 2 points in the standings felt like. God, it's good to be back in the win column. Oh, how we've missed you, Defiant Maple Leaf. Welcome back, my friend.
And a very special welcome back to the Monster, who provided the Leafs first true act of defiance on the night when he denied the Ducks an early strike with this spectacular save:
Sensational. Now that is defiant. What a difference a Monster makes.
Later, Anaheim's dubious opening goal of the 1st period would set the stage for the Leafs second act of defiance. Just 7 seconds after the goal - a bench minor for abuse of officials at 10:35, assessed during a TV timeout, presumably for over-zealous chirping about the missed goaltender-interference call on Marchant. Could have been quite costly if the Ducks had scored to go up 2-0, but the Leafs continued their defiance with a gutsy and determined penalty kill.
In fact, before the penalty-time had even expired, the Leafs third significant act of defiance occurred. A minute and a half into the Ducks' powerplay, Beauchemin drew a slash from Bobby Ryan, and then, after standing his ground against his former teammate, drew the attention of Corey Perry. Within seconds, the game's hat-trick hero Hagman, along with Stajan, became involved as gloves and sticks fell to the ice. When it was all sorted out, Hagman had the lone Leaf penalty for roughing, while Ryan's initial slashing minor was accompanied by a double-roughing minor to Perry for separate mix-ups with Beauchemin and then Hagman.
Three minutes, forty-two seconds and 2 quick powerplay goals later, the Leafs were in the lead.
In the 2nd period, there was a similar moment, with similar execution. With the Leafs already on the powerplay, Stempniak takes a terrific run at Anahiem's crease-crashng-culprit, Marchant, absolutely ninja-popping him into the boards. As Niedemayer reacts and comes in to engage Stempniak after the hit, our favourite Weeble-Wobbler, Rowdy Grabbo intercepts and jumps on the old warrior's back. Grabovski, who'd scored the Leafs first goal, loses his helmet in the scrum, yet Niedemayer is the one assessed the only penalty for roughing and the Leafs go to their 2nd 5-on-3 advantage. Once again, Hagman makes them pay.
A great save. A bench penalty. An aggressive penalty kill. A dangerous powerplay. Team courage and toughness.
Defiance. Truculence. Victory.
And 2 points.
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