Auston Matthews, Leafs continue dominance of New Jersey Devils: Muzzy’s Muzings
Photo credit:Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
By Nick Alberga13 days ago
So, let me this straight: The Leafs couldn’t beat Arizona this season, but they went 2-0-1 against the New Jersey Devils?
Auston Matthews’ PP tally with 2:53 remaining in regulation was the difference as the Leafs topped the Devils 4-3 to finish off their five-game road trip 3-2-0.
It was Toronto’s 20th comeback victory of the season, which is now one shy of New Jersey for the league lead. Mitch Marner notched goal and an assist while Ilya Samsonov racked up 30 saves for win No. 23. Calle Jarnkrok and Michael Bunting had the other goals for Toronto.
Most impressively, the Leafs did it without John Tavares and Ryan O’Reilly. The captain’s considered day-to-day. Meantime, the prognosis wasn’t as encouraging on O’Reilly. On Tuesday, it was announced that the former Blues captain will be out four weeks after undergoing successful surgery on his finger.
By the way, Matthews now has 14 goals in 15 career outings against New Jersey. Furthermore, Toronto’s 10-0-1 in their last 11 regular season meetings with the Devils. The Leafs took five of a possible six points from Lindy Ruff’s squad in their three game season series (2-0-1).
SUPERB START FOR SAMSONOV
Despite being outshot 15-5, the Leafs managed to head into the first intermission tied 0-0. Without question, Ilya Samsonov was the reason why. The 26-year-old Russian netminder, who took a shot off the top of the knee in warm up, looked no worse for wear making 30 stops on the night. In the first half of the game specifically, he kept the Leafs in the game. Suffice it is to say, it was a tough first period, but they weather the storm after that. What a gusty victory.
Frankly, I owe Sam Lafferty an apology. On Tuesday’s edition of Leafs Morning Take, I joked about him being Toronto’s No. 2 centre with John Tavares and Ryan O’Reilly out of the lineup. Full credit to the newcomer, though —I thought he played fantastic on Tuesday night. Most importantly, the Jarnkrok-Lafferty-Nylander trio found a way to silence the Jack Hughes line all night long. Hell, they even chipped in offensively. What a job! In general, I like what Lafferty brings the table. In short order, he’s really earned the trust of Sheldon Keefe and the coaching staff. Suddenly, you can see why the Leafs were so eager to acquire him.
MATTHEWS & MARNER
As Mike Johnson intimated on the TSN broadcast, I thought Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner were around it all night long. They worked their tails off. Having said that, it was only fitting to see Matthews hammer home the game winner. There’s no doubt he’s been fighting it lately, but I thought he really dictated play on Tuesday night. At times, I think we take the Matthews/Marner connection for granted in this market. They’re dynamite. Just for the record though, I don’t think Alex Kerfoot is the solution on that line. There’s snake bitten, then there’s Kerfoot. It’s been tough to see. Hopefully he’s just waiting for the playoffs to score all his goals.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT:
Following the completion of their five-game road trip, the Leafs will now get a few days off before hosting Connor McDavid and the Oilers on Saturday night. Back on March 1st in Edmonton, the Oilers took the opener of the two game season series 5-2.
Don’t forget to check out ‘Leafs Morning Take’ with yours truly, Nick Alberga, and former Leaf Jay Rosehill every weekday morning LIVE at 11 a.m. ET on The Nation Network YouTube page.
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