Big response for the BIG BOYS as the Leafs help the Islanders out again: Muzzy’s Muzings

Photo credit:Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Nick Alberga
10 months ago
After gifting the New York Islanders two points on Tuesday night, the Leafs helped them out a big way in the standings on Thursday night.
Auston Matthews (33, 34) tallied his 58th career two-goal effort to lead Toronto to a 6-2 win over the Florida Panthers. With the victory, the Leafs improved to 2-1-0 on their five-game road trip.
All-in-all, it was a monster night for the big boys. In addition to Matthews’ two-point outing, both Mitch Marner and Willian Nylander notched a goal and an assist while John Tavares registered three helpers. Hell, even Alex Kerfoot got into the act snapping a nasty 25-game goalless drought.
Furthermore, you just knew it was their night when this happened..
Seriously, that was a real stat. By the way, thanks to Michael Bunting, the Leafs are now 1-for-1 with a two-man advantage this season.
Meantime, Matt Murray, who upped his record to 14-7-2 on the season, was fantastic making 34 saves. The Leafs have taken both meetings so far with the Panthers; they still have two games left against each other.
Also, Tampa lost 7-2 in Ottawa, which means Toronto’s now five points up on the Lightning with two games in hand for second in the Atlantic Division.
For the eighth consecutive game, the Leafs scored the first goal. Why do I continue to bring this up, you ask? Well, against a team like Tampa, the first goal is everything. It’s cliché to talk about, but in that series specifically, I think Toronto’s starts will be so vital to potential success. The last thing you want to do is be chasing a game when the opposition has the likes of Andrei Vasilevskiy, Victor Hedman, and a cast of many others. Just some food for thought.
You can make the case for that being Auston Matthews’ best outing of the season thus far. For my money, it was his most complete. And quite frankly, it’s not even close. In all facets of the game, he was dominant; simply outstanding. It was a nice, humble reminder of how good this guy can be when he’s completely on his game. He’s become such a force defensively; it’s crazy. Believe it or not, that was just Matthews’ fourth multi-goal effort of the season compared to 15 last year in his 60-goal campaign. He’s up to six goals and 12 points in the past eight games. Let it eat, Auston. Let it eat. You love to see it.
A four-game pointless drought may not look like much on the surface, but I think it was huge for Nylander to nip the ‘slump’ in the bud before it started to take on a life of its own. The best news: William Nylander looked like William Nylander on Thursday night in Sunrise. Most noticeably, the net drive was back, something that’s been missing from his game recently. On top of that, I thought he was way more engaged than he has been in the last little while. It’s a long season; I wasn’t making much of this to begin with.
35 shots later, the forward can sleep easier at night now that he’s finally scored a goal again. Funny enough, his last goal previous to this one came on January 17th again..the Florida Panther. Damn, 25 games is a long time. It goes without saying but undoubtedly the Leafs will need a big goal or two from Kerfoot if they’re going to do anything substantial this spring. Finally..a reason to like the shootout. I guess Kerfoot’s shootout winner in Ottawa got him going.
 The Leafs will now get set for a back-to-back this weekend to finish off their five-game road trip. They’ll be in Carolina on Saturday night and Nashville on Sunday night.

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