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Bertuzzi nets birthday hat-trick as Maple Leafs extend winning streak with 4-3 win over Avalanche

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Photo credit:Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Zita
1 month ago
After heading into Vegas to take on the Golden Knights with Morgan Rielly back in the lineup and coming away with a massive 7-3 win on Thursday night, the Toronto Maple Leafs closed out their road trip in Colorado last night to take on the Avalanche for the second and final time this season.

First period:

The list of teams the Maple Leafs defeated leading up to last night’s game against the Avalanche wasn’t that impressive, but at the end of the day, you can only play the teams on your schedule. And for Toronto, they took care of business, winning six in a row entering Ball Arena.
But once the puck dropped last night, it was evident Colorado was a much different team than the ones Toronto had just played, aside from Vegas, because they were without four regular forwards.
Anyway, things didn’t get off to a good start for the road team. Less than a minute in, Simon Benoit was sent to the penalty box for a delay of game penalty, sending the ninth-ranked power play to the man advantage, despite a mini-slump they were in heading into yesterday’s contest.
Mini-slump be gone. Colorado was snapping that puck around in the offensive zone, and Nathan MacKinnon found Artturi Lehkonen near the net, and he potted home his eighth of the season, giving his team the 1-0 lead just 2:16 into the game.
It was clear that the early power-play goal gave the Avalanche some energy because they controlled play for the bulk of the first 10 minutes, and it helped them score a second goal. Toronto had the puck in the offensive zone, but within the blink of an eye, Nathan MacKinnon had the puck in transition, made TJ Brodie and Morgan Rielly look silly, and set up Andrew Cogliano for his fifth of the season.
Now Toronto is facing a two-goal deficit, and during their winning streak leading up to this game, they hadn’t been trailing a ton. If they wanted to extend this winning streak, they needed to tighten things up and score the next goal. Luckily, Tyler Bertuzzi drew a penalty on Ross Colton, sending his team to their first power play and second man advantage against Colorado this season.
The first unit did get their team on the board, as Tyler Bertuzzi, who drew the penalty, was set up back door, and Mitch Marner found him alone, and he banged home his eighth of the season – 100th goal of his career – to get his team within one goal.
The Maple Leafs did get better as the period progressed, but the Colorado Avalanche’s speed, especially from Nathan MacKinnon, was an area Toronto had to figure out how to contain. The Avalanche almost scored a third goal in transition, but the hockey gods were on Toronto’s side as the puck hit off the post and stayed on the goal line, keeping it a 2-1 game.
Toronto entered the first intermission down 2-1 and outshooting Colorado 12-11.

Second period:

It was a nice ending to the first period from Toronto, especially after cutting into Colorado’s lead. However, the Maple Leafs needed to replicate that second half of the first period into the next 20 minutes if they wanted to tie things up because Colorado is arguably the best team in the league on home ice.
When the puck dropped for the middle frame, the Avalanche and the Maple Leafs weren’t generating scoring chances at the same rate as they were in the previous period. But as the period aged, Colorado came close to going up two goals again. Similarly to the first, Ilya Samsonov came up big with a couple of massive stops and some puck luck on their side after some of their scoring chances hit the post or took a funny bounce and stayed out.
Colorado came close to making it a 3-1 game on one of their shifts toward the end of the period, but Toronto weathered the storm, and the Bertuzzi, Domi, Nylander line picked up the puck and raced up the ice. William Nylander toe dragged around a diving Cale Makar and looked for Max Domi, but it was broken up. Nylander swatted the loose puck on Georgiev, which was stopped, but Tyler Bertuzzi came in and buried the loose puck for his second goal of the game – ninth of the season – tying things up.
After tying things up at two, Toronto was feeling it. Their next couple of shifts were dominant, and they were hungry, looking for the third goal before the end of the second period. Alexander Georgiev made a couple of big saves for his team, keeping Toronto off the board.
Unfortunately for the home team, the Matthews line continued applying pressure like the other lines were able to do before them. After a hard-working shift along the wall, winning the puck back, Mitch Marner showed off his skating and fired a shot from the blue line, which beat Georgiev for his 23rd of the season, taking the 3-2 lead with a little over three minutes to go in the frame.
Toronto entered the second intermission up 3-2 and outshooting Colorado 26-20.

Third period:

After an impressive second period, scoring twice to take the 3-2 lead, the Toronto Maple Leafs now had the challenge of keeping that one-goal lead intact against a high-power offence like the Colorado Avalanche. It wasn’t going to be simple by any means. As mentioned above, the Avalanche had a ridiculous 22-5-0 record on home ice and, as per the broadcast, an 8-13-0 record when trailing after two periods. Long story short: the Maple Leafs needed to expect a massive third-period push from the home team.
Right on cue, Colorado came out of the intermission flying all over the ice. They did not allow the Maple Leafs to gain possession of the puck for what felt like a big chunk of the period, as they were desperately looking for the game-tying goal. The amount of pressure the Avalanche were applying to the Maple Leafs had the defending team gassed in their zone, and it didn’t get easier when William Nylander’s stick broke, giving Colorado a 5-on-4 advantage.
Mikko Rantanen noticed Nylander without a stick and ripped his 30th of the season past Ilya Samsonov roughly five minutes into the final period, tying the game up at three.
As the period reached the midway point, not only did Colorado tie the game back up, but they were outshooting Toronto 7-0, giving nothing to the road team. However, Bobby McMann broke that goose egg with around five minutes to go, and fortunately, Mikko Rantanen took a lazy delay of game penalty as he sent the puck over the glass, sending Toronto to their second power play.
The Rantanen penalty couldn’t have come at a better time for the Maple Leafs. They weren’t generating anything up to this point in the third period, and with roughly four minutes left, a goal on the power play would’ve been huge. Well, ask and you shall receive. Sitting on two goals, the birthday boy, Tyler Bertuzzi, was all alone in front of the net, and William Nylander fed him a sweet pass from behind the net for the go-ahead hat-trick goal.
Bertuzzi entered last night’s game with seven goals on the season, and it was evident that he had been struggling to find the back of the net. The chances were coming in bunches for the 29-year-old, but the finishing ability was not there. Last night was hopefully a sign of the floodgates opening for the winger as the playoffs are slowly creeping up.
Nathan MacKinnon came close to tying the game up as the final horn went. But Ilya Samsonov denied him, helping pick up the massive 4-3 win, extending Toronto’s winning streak to seven games, the longest in franchise history since 2003.

Who stood out:

It wasn’t a fantastic game from Toronto last night, and it was clear that the Avalanche were the most challenging opponent the Maple Leafs’ had faced during this hot stretch. But they hung around, stuck together, and found a way to come out victorious on the road in the team’s third game in four nights.
Tyler Bertuzzi led the way with a hat trick, two goals coming on the power play, as his line with Max Domi and William Nylander was by far Toronto’s most dangerous trio. According to Moneypuck.com, they led the team with an xGF of 0.928 at five-on-five but also had an xGA of 1.05, which is expected given that line screams all offence, no defence. The other three lines weren’t all that impressive, and if it wasn’t for Toronto’s power play, they’d lose that game to the Avalanche.
The big three – Matthews, Marner, and Nylander – extended their point streaks last night. Matthews picked up an assist on Bertuzzi’s go-ahead goal, Marner had a two-point night (one goal and one assist), and Nylander recorded another three-point night (three assists).
 
(Stats from hockey-reference.com)
You can catch the Toronto Maple Leafs’ next game on Tuesday night when they host the Vegas Golden Knights as they begin a five-game homestand. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT.
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