3-point night from Nylander helps Maple Leafs defeat Sharks 4-1 and complete California sweep

Photo credit:Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Zita
6 months ago
After sweeping the back-to-back against the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks to begin their three-game California trip, the Toronto Maple Leafs travelled north to the Santa Clara Valley to take on the San Jose Sharks as they finished their road trip last night.

First period:

Similarly to their game against the Ducks Wednesday night, it started with both teams trading early chances within the first couple of minutes. But once both teams rolled out all four lines at least once, it was a dominating period for the Maple Leafs, and that was how the first period played out for Toronto against Anaheim.
After recording 18 shots in the first period, limiting the Ducks to just nine, on Wednesday night, Toronto put up 17 shots against this Sharks team, limiting them to just three, two of them coming at the very beginning of the period! Despite skating circles around their opponents and generating tons of scoring chances, the Maple Leafs managed just one goal in both periods combined, and it was last night on a 5-on-3 power play.
After Hertl was whistled for tripping and Granlund for a face-off violation, Toronto headed to a rare 5-on-3 power play, and they took advantage of the opportunity. Mitch Marner poked a loose puck after the puck was dropped for the face-off, and Morgan Rielly picked it up and began a passing play between himself, William Nylander, and Marner, who eventually blasted home his 15th of the season to take a 1-0 lead.
That power-play goal gave Marner 40 points on the season, Rielly 30 points on the season, and extended Nylander’s point streak to three games. Although Toronto saw themselves up by one heading into the first intermission, it easily could’ve been a 4-0 lead. They hit three posts with 17 shots and 36 shot attempts to cap off a dominating period from the road team.

Second period:

After an impressive showing in the first period, which saw Toronto register 17 shots but manage one goal, the game plan was to continue doing what they were doing and hope they would get lucky in the second frame to extend their lead. Unfortunately, the Maple Leafs didn’t quite have the same jump they did in the first period, and it was more of an even game for the bulk of the middle frame.
There were chances traded between both clubs, but nothing crazy enough to result in any goals, and the game remained 1-0 for a long time. But that lasted until roughly 40 seconds left when Max Domi beat out an icing call, which helped Toronto put together an offensive shift before the period ended.
Once Domi beat out the icing call and his team gained possession of the puck, they went to work. Timothy Liljegren fired the puck toward the front of the net, but it got blocked, and the puck popped out to open ice beside Calle Jarnkrok. Jarnkrok collected the puck, spun around and fired his tenth of the season past Blackwood to double his team’s lead before both teams went into the second intermission.
Despite being a much quieter period for Toronto, they managed to double their lead, and they headed into the intermission period out-shooting the Sharks 25-12 and controlling the pace of play through two periods.

Third period:

Up two goals entering the final period of regulation as the road team against an opponent at the bottom of the standings, the Maple Leafs needed to keep their foot on the gas, and that’s what they did.
Although the first period was a dominant performance from them, and the second period was more even, Toronto just needed to play smart hockey to maintain the lead, as they looked to complete the California sweep against the Sharks before heading home to Toronto.
Despite the Sharks not being good this season, they put together a push in the final 20 minutes, as expected, given they were producing almost nothing through the first 40 minutes. But it was Toronto that extended their lead before the midway point of the period as William Nylander sniped his 20th of the season post and in past Blackwood for his second point of the night.
With the Maple Leafs now up 3-0, a win was almost a sure thing until Mikael Granlund broke Martin Jones’ shutout bid with eight minutes to go in the game, handing Toronto their first five-on-five goal against since their December 29th game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
However, San Jose cutting the deficit to two only lasted a handful of minutes because the man who is reportedly on the verge of signing a massive eight-year extension with Toronto scored his 21st of the season – second goal and third point of the night – to give his team the 4-1 lead with minutes remaining in regulation.
That pretty much wrapped up the game as the Maple Leafs defeated the Sharks 4-1 to complete the California sweep and improve their record to 20-10-7 on the season.

Who stood out:

It’s hard to talk about this game without the performances of Martin Jones and William Nylander.
As mentioned above, Nylander scored two goals and added an assist for his fifth three-point game and 15th multi-point game on the season, improving his season totals to 21 goals and 54 points. Those 54 points rank him fifth in league scoring, only behind David Pastrnak, Artemi Panarin (55), Nathan MacKinnon (65) and Nikita Kucherov (67).
Martin Jones, who started his fourth consecutive game last night, completed the sweep of California teams as he stopped 23 shots to improve his record to 7-3-0 with outstanding numbers (2.08 GAA and .932 SV%) with the Maple Leafs. I know I’ve said it many times, but if you told me before the season that Jones would be the team’s starter in January, I wouldn’t have believed you, but that’s the reality of this team right now due to Woll’s injury and Samsonov’s poor play.
Tyler Bertuzzi also quietly continues to find his way on the scoresheet. With two more assists (both on Nylander’s goals) the winger has nine points in his last ten games and 18 points on the season after a slow start to his tenure with Toronto. The second line of himself, Tavares and Nylander have looked great as of late.
You can catch the Toronto Maple Leafs’ next game Tuesday night when they return home to host the San Jose Sharks to wrap up their home-and-home series. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT.
(Stats from Hockey-Reference.com)

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