Bertuzzi nets two goals as the depleted Maple Leafs win 5-1 against the Capitals

Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Zita
23 days ago
Despite being listed as a game-time decision hours before puck drop, Auston Matthews took warmups last night and was declared available for the third and final meeting of the season between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals.

First period:

Just over a week ago, these two teams played one another in Washington. It took less than 20 seconds for Toronto to open the scoring when Auston Matthews scored his 56th of the season. But last night, it took a little longer for that first goal.
Both teams got early power plays to go to work with after Mark Giordano was sent to the box for roughing 4:30 into the game and Nic Dowd for tripping two minutes after the Maple Leafs successfully killed off the Giordano penalty at 7:21. Toronto’s power play has struggled a ton this month, I don’t have to remind everybody. But their man advantage in the first frame didn’t go to complete waste.
It felt like they had a chance to score on Charlie Lindgren with the amount of looks they created in the Capitals’ zone. Despite five shots, all being great looks, they were unsuccessful. But roughly 40 seconds after Dowd exited the box, the Maple Leafs finally opened the scoring with a goal from their blue line.
Mark Giordano received the puck from Matthew Knies, and he quickly snapped a shot on the net, which beat Charlie Lindgren for his second goal of the season.
In his first game back from sustaining a concussion against the Arizona Coyotes on February 29th, Mark Giordano got on the board with a goal and pointed to the sky for his father, Paul, who passed away in mid-February.
Despite both teams having a power play and the possession numbers being similar, Toronto held a significant advantage in shots. Near the end of the period, they came close to a couple more, but Lindgren was up to the task, keeping his team trailing by one goal instead of two or three.
Toronto entered the first intermission up 1-0 and outshot Washington 19-8.

Second period:

As mentioned above, Auston Matthews scored 16 seconds into the first period in Washington last week. And although the first goal took 10 minutes, it took a lot less for the first goal of the middle period.
Just 18 seconds into the second, the top line went to work in the offensive zone, and Tyler Bertuzzi, from behind the net, banked the puck off the back of Lindgren and in for his 17th goal of the season, doubling his team’s lead early on.
Bertuzzi’s early marker in the second frame gave him five goals in his last seven games, and after a tough start to his Maple Leafs tenure, 20 goals doesn’t seem impossible anymore for the 29-year-old.
It was good the top line added a little bit of insurance to begin the period because roughly five minutes after Bertuzzi’s tally, Washington got on the board, cutting into the deficit with a nifty tip from Nic Dowd for his 10th goal of the season.
With a quick answer from the road team after falling behind 2-0, they were headed to their second power play after John Tavares was whistled for tripping. Suddenly, a 2-0 game was 2-1, and the Capitals were one shot away from tying it up.
Fortunately, Toronto’s penalty kill did its job and successfully killed off their second penalty of the game. Both teams traded chances after Tavares exited the box, and Washington came close to making it a 2-2 game after a near chance from Dylan Strome but couldn’t beat Joseph Woll.
The Maple Leafs went the other way in transition, and the fourth line got on the scoresheet, restoring their two-goal lead with roughly eight minutes to go, as Connor Dewar cleaned up the rebound in front of the net for his 11th goal of the season – first as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Toronto entered the second intermission up 3-1 and outshooting Washington 33-18.

Third period:

After scoring less than a minute into the middle period, Toronto continued the early production with a goal from their second line just 1:06 in.
Simon Benoit sprung John Tavares on an odd-man rush with Bobby McMann, and the captain dished a one-timer for McMann. Lindgren initially made the save, but the puck took a bounce off the Capitals’ defender and went into the net for his 14th goal of the season. With his third-period goal, McMann is up to five points (four goals and one assist) in eight games since signing his two-year extension with the Maple Leafs.
With the home team up 4-1 and not giving the Capitals much to work with, the Maple Leafs coasted to the final horn after the McMann goal. They continued to generate chances on Lindgren, especially the top line, as Auston Matthews was visibly on a mission last night for goal number 60.
Just over halfway through the final period, after forcing the Capitals’ defender into a turnover, Tyler Bertuzzi potted the loose puck into the net for his 18th goal of the season and second of the night. Max Domi didn’t pick an assist up on the goal, but his pressure was much appreciated on that play.
It was now a 5-1 game for the Maple Leafs, and after two goals in the first half of the period, you could pretty much wrap the game up for Toronto. After being called out by their head coach, Sheldon Keefe, for their effort against the New Jersey Devils, specifically with their play away from the puck, they delivered a solid bounce-back game to close out their two-game homestand, as they defeated Washington 5-1 and completed the season series sweep, outscoring the Capitals 16-5.

Who stood out:

It was a much more mature effort from Toronto last night. And after Sheldon Keefe called Tuesday’s loss the opposite of mature, this quote from Terry Koshan shows that he must’ve liked his team’s game before they head out to Buffalo this weekend.
There was a lot to like from yesterday’s game. When you defeat your opponent by four goals, double them in shots (48-24), control the play in every period, and, according to naturalstattrick.com, hold the advantage in shot attempts (74-55), scoring chances (34-22), and high-danger chances (20-9), you must’ve played a pretty darn good game of hockey, and that’s what Toronto did last night.
It’s evident that with all of these regular players out of the lineup, the Maple Leafs have and will struggle in certain areas. But this season, among other years, they’ve shown that the “next man up mentality” is real, and players have stepped up in numerous games.
Toronto scored five goals last night, and not one came off the stick of Auston Matthews, William Nylander or John Tavares. It was the depth leading the way for Toronto, with a beautiful two-goal performance from Tyler Bertuzzi, who seems to be heating up at the right time.
Bobby McMann has found a ton of success with the Maple Leafs this season, and his goal last night now gives him 14 on the season to go along with nine assists for 23 points in 48 games. That is a 24-goal and 39-point pace over an 82-game season. We can’t forget the fourth line (Connor Dewar) and the blue line (Mark Giordano) joining in on the scoring.
Lastly, it was a solid bounce-back effort from Joseph Woll. After allowing five goals on 24 shots against the New Jersey Devils earlier in the week, the 25-year-old allowed one goal and turned away 23 shots to improve to 11-9-1 on the season with a .910 SV% and improved to 3-4-0 since returning from injury.
You can catch the Toronto Maple Leafs’ next game on Saturday night when they travel to Buffalo to take on the Sabres. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT.
(Stats from hockey-reference.com)

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