Photo credit:Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports
4-point night from Matthews, Jones stops 28 shots as Maple Leafs dismantle Rangers 7-3
By Joseph Zita2 months ago
It was an emotional game Monday night for the Toronto Maple Leafs that resulted in an overtime loss to the New York Islanders. However, the team quickly shifted focus to the following day as they closed their mini two-game road trip against the New York Rangers last night, picking up an impressive win.
The game started fast and furious, well, kind of. Despite Toronto holding the edge in shots 1-0 five minutes into the game, Toronto opened the scoring on their second shot on a delayed penalty. As William Nylander and Auston Matthews hopped over the boards, they worked their magic and put their team on the board first. Nylander collected the puck in the neutral zone, skated past a couple of Ranger players, split the defence, and fed Matthews a sweet pass, which he made no mistake putting in the back of the net for his 20th of the season, making him the first player to reach the 20-goal mark this season.
Just over a minute after Matthews opened the scoring, a minute and 15 seconds to be exact, Toronto had an offensive zone face-off and took advantage of it. A face-off win made its way to Conor Timmins at the point, and he fired a shot toward the net that beat Shesterkin cleanly for his first of the season.
This is why I said the game started ‘fast and furious, well, kind of.’ After Toronto scored two goals in 1:15, New York would answer back roughly 30 seconds later as Blake Wheeler would bang home his third of the season, which was a bad defensive zone shift for the Rielly-Brodie pairing. After the Rangers got within one goal, Jake McCabe went to the box for hooking, and the Rangers had an opportunity to tie this game up after two quick goals from Toronto. Luckily, the Maple Leafs’ penalty kill continued their great stretch and killed off the penalty, as well as any momentum New York thought they had.
Whether it was the confidence in scoring two goals in a minute and 15 seconds or the penalty kill, Toronto turned it up again late in the first period, scoring two more goals in 21 seconds.
First, Calle Jarnkrok banged home his seventh of the season after a nice offensive zone shift from himself, Bertuzzi and Tavares. They won the offensive zone face-off, kept possession of the puck, generated chances on the net, and fortunately, one produced a juicy rebound, and Jarnkrok was there to capitalize on it.
Then, Matthews and Marner worked their magic. They performed a little give-and-go, and Marner scored his 10th of the season with an easy tap-in goal.
Toronto entered the first intermission up 4-1, outshooting the Rangers 11-3 and controlling most of the play.
With the Rangers down 4-1 and only generating three shots on net in the first period, there was an expected push from New York as they tried to get themselves back in this hockey game. Well, that was the case. Toronto looked a little off to begin the second period. They weren’t as crisp as they were in their zone and started giving their opponent more and more opportunities to make it a game.
The Rangers possessed the puck for an extended period and generated the better scoring chances, but Martin Jones, making his first start as a Maple Leaf, was up to the task. It wasn’t as an eventful period as the first was. There were chances for both teams, but nothing that turned into a goal. With about five minutes remaining in the second period, Conor Timmins was whistled for hooking Vincent Trocheck, and the Rangers headed back to the power play for the second time in the game. Unfortunately, the Rangers’ power play was too good, and they finally found a way to beat Jones cleanly. Fox fed Panarin at the point, who teed up Zibanejad on his one-timer spot, and he rocketed his eighth of the season to cut the deficit in half.
The goal went straight to the Rangers’ feet because although they looked like the better team in the second period, they looked like an entirely different team in the final minutes. Nylander and McMann were on an odd-man rush and had a chance to make it a 5-2 game, but Shesterkin made the save, and they went the other way, resulting in Blake Wheeler snapping his fourth of the season past Jones to make it a 4-3 game heading into the second intermission.
It wasn’t quite how Toronto had hoped the second period would’ve gone, but when the Rangers entered the second period down by three, it was inevitable a push was coming from them to get back in the game. They scored twice late in the period, and Toronto entered the third period up by one.
Now it was Toronto’s turn to get the next goal. They couldn’t afford the Rangers to score again and tie the game, resulting in a 4-1 blown lead. Luckily for the Maple Leafs, they drew a penalty and headed to their second power play of the game after they almost scored on the same shift. It took them just six seconds to win the face-off and find the back of the net. Matthews fed Rielly at the point, he fired a shot toward the net, and Marner tipped home his second of the game and 11th of the season to restore Toronto’s two-goal lead.
Toronto desperately needed that goal to begin the third period after allowing the Rangers to score two unanswered late in the second. Whatever Keefe said to his team in between periods worked because, after a mediocre second period, Toronto had a solid road third period despite another push from the Rangers. It’s also hard not to mention the monstrous hit that Jake McCabe laid on Ryan Lindgren as he entered Toronto’s zone. If you missed the hit, here is a clip below.
With the Maple Leafs up 5-3 and the Maple Leaf fans, who were at MSG, excited with the fifth goal and the McCabe hit, they were rewarded with another goal from their favourite team. Auston Matthews, who scored his 20th of the season earlier in the game, would snipe his second of the night past Igor Shesterkin to give his club the late three-goal lead.
David Kampf would pot home the empty-netter to wrap this game up 7-3 for the Maple Leafs, making it Kampf’s third goal in his last four games.
Who stood out:
There’s plenty of love to go around to players after last night’s 7-3 win over the Rangers, but I’ll talk about four players.
Auston Matthews registered his third two-goal game in his last five games while adding two assists for four points. After recording 11 shots against the Islanders and only finding the back of the net once, he only needed three shots to score twice on one of the league’s best netminders. Matthews has seven goals and four assists (11 points) in his last six games and now ranks inside the top ten in league scoring, with 32 points.
Mitch Marner also had a good game last night. He scored twice, one being the eventual game-winner, and also picked up an assist on the empty-netter from Kampf. That’s four points in his last two games, improving his season point total to 29 points and putting him on pace for a 91-point campaign.
Martin Jones made his first start as a Maple Leaf last night, and although many people were probably nervous heading into the game, given it was against the Rangers on the road, on the second half of a back-to-back, and half the blue line consisting of depth players, Jones played relatively well. He stopped 28 of 31 shots, and despite allowing three goals, he made a couple of massive stops in the second period when the Rangers were pushing hard.
Although Tyler Bertuzzi didn’t appear on the scorehseet, he played another great game. He led all Toronto skaters with a 1.48 xGF at five-on-five, according to Naturalstattrick.com, and as I said, although he didn’t appear on the scorehseet, he helped produce both the Jarnkrok goal and Matthews’ second goal. His tenacity on the forecheck to get to pucks and all-around effort has been noticeable over the last couple of weeks. It’s only a matter of time until he starts potting more goals home.
You can catch the Toronto Maple Leafs’ next game Thursday night on Sportsnet when they return home to host the Columbus Blue Jackets. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT.
(Stats from Hockey-Reference.com)
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