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Holmberg, McMann each score twice as Maple Leafs hang on for 6-3 win over Oilers

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Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Zita
25 days ago
Following a bounce-back win on Wednesday night in Washington, the Toronto Maple Leafs returned home to host the Edmonton Oilers on Hockey Night in Canada for the second and final time this season, with both sides looking to continue their winning ways in 2024.

First period:

Other than an original six-matchup, what better team to play on Saturday night in Toronto than the Edmonton Oilers? Last night’s game featured some of the league’s very best. From Auston Matthews to Connor McDavid to William Nylander and Leon Draisaitl, both teams had plenty of talent on their sides for this one.
Both teams were coming off big wins in their previous games. Toronto defeated Washington 7-3, and Edmonton took down Buffalo 8-3, and it didn’t take too long to find the opening goal in last night’s tilt.
After killing off an early penalty, Toronto got in on the forecheck and produced a pretty play that resulted in a goal. William Nylander gently chipped the puck into open space in the offensive zone, and Timothy Liljegren poked it down low for John Tavares, who fed Bobby McMann charging the net, and he banged home his 12th of the season for the 1-0 lead 4:17 into the first.
With an early tally on the board following a solid penalty kill, the Maple Leafs strung a couple of excellent shifts together, searching for a second goal to put on the board, and they almost did but couldn’t capitalize on the brilliant opportunity in tight, as Nylander missed an easy tap in.
Time progressed in the period, and what was close to being a potential 2-on-1 for Toronto, John Tavares was whistled for interference, sending Edmonton to their second power play in the first 15 minutes. Like their earlier kill, the Maple Leafs did a fantastic job short-handed, limiting the Oilers to chances and being aggressive on the puck.
Joel Edmundson, who delivered a massive hit on Connor McDavid along the boards earlier in the frame, made Leon Draisaitl’s life miserable in the corner and blocked one of his shots, denying any potential scoring chance.
With their second penalty successfully killed off, it was Toronto’s turn to head to the power play. It’s no secret they have been struggling on the man advantage, and despite a couple of tweaks here and there, they haven’t found much success. However, Nylander redirected Liljegren’s point shot past Stuart Skinner for the 2-0 lead, giving Toronto a power play goal in three straight games for what feels like the first time in forever.
Roughly 20 seconds after Nylander’s 39th goal of the season, Evander Kane tripped up Conor Timmins, sending the home team back to the power play. Their man advantage was cut in half due to the end of the period, and Toronto had roughly 30 seconds of power play time to begin the next frame.
Toronto entered the first intermission up 2-0, outshooting Edmonton 10-6.

Second period:

With 33 seconds of power play time carrying over to the middle frame, Toronto couldn’t find the back of the net for the second time on the man advantage, keeping the game 2-0 through the first couple of minutes.
Despite that, they still managed to generate chances at five-on-five, testing Skinner in the early going. They came close but couldn’t find the back of the net.
The play continued in their favour well into the frame and benefited on another forecheck, similar to McMann’s first-period goal. With Pontus Holmberg on the top line with Max Domi and Auston Matthews for a shift in the second period, he got in on the scoring thanks to some excellent work from the other two forwards.
Matthews beat Evan Bouchard to the puck in the corner and fed Domi in the slot, who found Holmberg open for an easy tap-in for his fifth of the season.
After going up 3-0 on the scoreboard and having the last two power plays in the game, it made sense the following power play went to the visiting Oilers. But that didn’t faze Toronto. They stuck to their structure on the penalty kill, limited Edmonton, and capitalized on a mistake their opposition made at the end of the man advantage.
After Timmins jumped back on the ice following his two-minute minor for cross-checking, Edmonton was caught on a delayed offside. They had two choices: touch the puck and have the face-off in the neutral zone or allow Toronto to gain possession. They chose the latter.
Adam Henrique decided it was a good idea for the Maple Leafs to pick the loose puck up. Unfortunately for the Oilers, it hurt them. Holmberg joined Morgan Rielly and Bobby McMann for a 3-on-1 that quickly developed up ice, and after scoring his fifth goal of the season, Holmberg potted home his sixth of the season – second of the night – for the 4-0 lead.
Up to this point in the game, I wouldn’t say the Edmonton Oilers had necessarily looked bad. Yes, the scoreboard told a different story, but I think that was more so of the road team not getting any saves, and four and a half minutes after Holmberg’s second tally of the night, it continued.
The second line of McMann, Tavares, and Nylander had been doing great things in this game up to this point, and with roughly five minutes to go in the period, they kept it going. They got the puck in transition, and Tavares found Nylander entering the offensive zone. The winger found an open McMann, and he ripped his 13th of the season – second of the night – past Skinner for the commanding 5-0 lead.
It was evident frustration started to boil over for the Oilers. There were many scrums post-whistle, and the Maple Leafs weren’t having any of that. As the horn sounded to end the middle period, Darnell Nurse purposely skated into Joel Edmundson, clearly upset. Every member on the ice from both teams got into a scrum and had to be broken up by the officials.
Nurse was handed a two-minute roughing minor and a 10-minute misconduct for his actions after the horn, which sent the Maple Leafs to their third power play to open the third period.
Toronto entered the second intermission up 5-0, outshooting Edmonton 23-21.

Third period:

To go along with their third power play, the Maple Leafs were greeted with a goalie change from the opposite end of the ice, as the Oilers yanked Skinner and replaced him with Calvin Pickard.
Toronto couldn’t get anything going on their power play to begin the third frame, and after a successful kill for Edmonton, they went to their fourth power play after Conor Timmins went to the box for a delay of game penalty. After three straight kills through the first 40 minutes, Toronto allowed a power play goal against with seconds remaining on Timmins’ minor, as former Maple Leaf Zach Hyman banged home his 49th of the season, breaking Ilya Samsonov’s shutout bid with 15 minutes left.
The Oilers are one of the best third-period teams, and after scoring five goals against the Sabres in the third period in their last game, a massive third-period push was expected. But boy, it was maybe a little too much for the Maple Leafs to handle at points.
Two and a half minutes after Hyman got his team on the board, Connor Dewar was whistled for tripping, sending the road team right back to the man advantage. Noted Maple Leaf killer Corey Perry joined his teammate Hyman and decided to get in on the scoring, as he potted home his 10th of the season for two consecutive power-play goals.
With two goals through the first 8:32 of the third period, Toronto’s five-goal lead was now a three-goal lead with more than 11 minutes to go in regulation. It’s not exactly how you want to play a third period, no matter what the lead is, but the final 11 minutes for the Maple Leafs needed to be good because the Oilers weren’t going to shy away from keeping their foot on the gas pedal.
Edmonton kept pushing and pushing, spending a good chunk of the period in Toronto’s end of the ice. After two goals in the first eight and a half minutes, Toronto kept them off the board for the next eight minutes until Edmonton pulled Pickard for the extra attacker. With three and a half minutes to go, Leon Draisaitl redirected Connor McDavid’s shot pass, and it was now a 5-3 game.
Unfortunately, Samsonov was injured on the Draisaitl goal as he tried to make a save and had to be pulled from the game.
Pickard went to the bench again, and the chances kept coming in bunches for the Oilers, but after a couple of close calls, Auston Matthews buried the empty netter – for the first time this season – for his 58th goal of the season and the 6-3 lead with 13 seconds left.

Who stood out:

Without Tyler Bertuzzi in last night’s lineup, Sheldon Keefe and his coaching staff tinkered with the lines again. One line in particular had a solid night of production, the McMann, Tavares, and Nylander line outscored the Oilers at five-on-five 2-0, and the players combined for three goals and four assists in all situations.
Although he didn’t appear on the scoresheet, Joel Edmundson might’ve had his best game as a Maple Leaf last night, and his teammates thought that as well, as the newly acquired blue liner earned the belt after yesterday’s win.
In just his sixth game with Toronto, he played 22:53, which is the most he has played in a game all season long. There were five power plays for the Oilers, so it makes sense why his ice time was high, given Edmundson has been thrown into the penalty kill unit mix, and if you watched last night’s game, he was great out there. He laid a couple of big, solid hits on the penalty kill and jumped in front of a Leon Draisaitl shot in the first period, preventing a potential shot on the net.
He and his partner, Liljegren, may have had their best game as a pairing. According to Moneypuck.com, they generated an xGF% of 62.9% while outscoring the opposition 1-0 and outshot them 11-5.
 
You can catch the Toronto Maple Leafs’ next game tonight when they close out their back-to-back in Carolina as they take on the Hurricanes. Puck drop is scheduled for 6:00 pm ET/3:00 pm PT. 

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