The popular winger, like he does most games, threw his weight around with authority; he backchecked, even making a highlight out of the defensive play when he diffused a potential 2-on-1 with pure hustle.
Komarov is scoring goals this season as well, and that’s where there is a departure from the norm for the 28-year-old who can speak five languages and has been known to draw some laughs from his teammates in the dressing room.
Komarov popped a game-tying goal in the second period for the Leafs Thursday night but it was all for naught in the end. It was part of an eventual 5-4 overtime victory for San Jose that saw Toronto overcome a terrible first period only to fall in overtime when Sharks defenceman Brent Burns netted the winner on a long wrist shot through a screen.
For Komarov, his goal was his team-leading 11th of the season and came on a nice move: he came across the front of the net but held onto the puck as he moved laterally and pulled San Jose goalie Martin Jones off his feet. The rest was a matter of stuffing the puck into what was a huge opening, and Komarov made no mistake.
James van Riemsdyk put in another terrific goal for the Leafs, scoring off his knees in the final minute of the second to give the Leafs two unanswered goals in the middle frame. It also gave the home side the lead, a completely absurd thought after a dismal first period in which they were outshot 21-9 and were overwhelmingly outplayed.
Leafs coach Mike Babcock certainly pulled a coaching string or two in the first intermission to spark a turnaround in his team. It came, as well, against the backdrop of another tense moment for the team’s beleaguered goaltending.
Toronto fell behind two goals in the first period — both on San Jose powerplays — and the barrage apparently led to an injury to goalie Garret Sparks. Sparks exited the game in favour of Jonathan Bernier, who entered to a mix of cheers and boos.
Toronto rebounded after that, wrapping up 26 shots over the remainder of the game.
“They were way better than us (in the first period), they took it to us big time,” Babcock said. “We obviously had a little talk there and we competed better in the second. In the end, I was pleased with the way our guys responded.”
The coach also had words of praise for visitors, who logged 44 shots overall and set a team record with 25 shots by defencemen.
For Babcock, though, the news gets tougher: injuries to Sparks (lower body) and centre Nick Spaling (upper body, suspected shoulder injury) are “long term.”
Komarov and van Riemsdyk, with his 10th, became the first Leafs to hit double digits in goals this season.
Komarov now has 18 points in 30 games, and a surprising comparison lit up on Twitter after his second-period goal. Down in Pittsburgh, superstar Sidney Crosby has but six goals and 19 points so far this season.
In 104 NHL games prior to this season, Komarov had 12 goals.