Knee Jerk Reaction: Woll, Knies drag Leafs to sloppy overtime win in Tampa Bay

Photo credit:Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Hobson
1 month ago
Welcome to “Knee Jerk Reaction”, a new series at The Leafs Nation where we take everything we saw in the past 60 minutes and throw it onto a word document the minute the final buzzer goes. If you have a knee jerk reaction to tonight’s game, leave it in the comments! 
It wasn’t pretty, but the Toronto Maple Leafs turned it on at the right time and managed to scrape out a 4-3 overtime win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. It was the fourth overtime winner in a row at Amalie Arena for the Maple Leafs, going back to their three wins on the road in last year’s first round against Tampa. 
The game started a lot like the one in Florida, outside of the fact that the Leafs actually scored the first goal of the game this time. A couple of defensive breakdowns and an inability for Ilya Samsonov to make a save early in the game saw Tampa jump out to a 3-1 lead in the first period, with Samsonov getting the yank in favour of Joseph Woll after managing a laughable .250 save percentage (SV%). But ultimately, the Leafs were able to come up with the win thanks to two players – Woll and Matthew Knies. 
Let’s talk Woll first. Knies may have had the sexier game, scoring two goals in less than three minutes to drag the Leafs out of their deficit and into a tie game, but they don’t come close to winning this game without the stability from the guy who came in relief of the starter. Woll stopped all 29 shots he saw to keep the Leafs in the game from the moment he stepped on the ice. Although he was tested a few times, the team had the benefit of a few momentum boosts, including a massive penalty kill in the second period to keep them within two goals. 
It may have been an unpopular opinion among Leafs fans at the time, but I was okay with Sheldon Keefe going back to Samsonov tonight. Thursday’s loss wasn’t his fault by any means, and while some of the goals tonight shouldn’t be pinned on him, he didn’t do anything with his opportunity to string together a few good starts. Woll stepped up and gave his team every chance in the world to get back into the game, and in the process ensured that the goaltending battle remained open. 
While Woll’s performance kept them alive, we can’t move forward without talking about the inevitable breakout game from Matthew Knies. Sure, he was held pointless in each of his first four games, but even though there weren’t any 1s or 2s next to his name on the scoresheet, you could see that he was chomping at the bit. His strong play earned him a promotion to the second line with John Tavares and William Nylander, but ironically enough, his scoresheet contribution came when he was shuffled to the third line with David Kampf and Max Domi late in the game. 
Domi found Knies for not one, but two goals in the third period, marking his first two NHL goals ~on paper~, since his playoff goal against Florida technically doesn’t count. It also had to have been a big confidence boost for Domi, who came into this game with only one assist and struggling to find his spot in the lineup. 
It certainly wasn’t a pretty win, and it would be really nice to see the Leafs manage a win without surrounding at least three goals, but it’s two points against a divisional rival, which is something positive to take away from the game regardless of how they got there. 
What’s your knee jerk reaction to tonight’s win? Let us know in the comments!

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