Photo credit:Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Maple Leafs head to Sweden on two game win streak after 5-2 win over Canucks
By Joseph Zita3 months ago
After picking up two crucial points in the standings with their 5-4 shootout win over the Calgary Flames Friday night, the Toronto Maple Leafs closed out their five-game homestand against one of the best teams in the NHL, the Vancouver Canucks. Despite the win, Toronto has yet to put together a solid 60-minute effort that resulted in a win this season, so they were up for a difficult task with this red-hot Canucks team.
It was quite an eventful first period between Toronto and Vancouver, especially if you’re a fan of goals, hits, and fights. The game started with the Canucks controlling the early possession, and rookie Matthew Knies would take a tripping penalty to put one of the best power plays and offences in the league on the early man advantage. Luckily, Toronto’s penalty kill, which has been brutal to start the season, killed off the early power play for Vancouver, and everything was good.
That was until Dakota Joshua lit up David Kampf in the neutral zone with a big open ice hit, and the league’s oldest player, Mark Giordano, came to his defence and dropped the gloves with the former Maple Leafs draft pick. Although this is a Maple Leafs site, Giordano got the best of Dakota Joshua. However, Toronto was hit with an instigator penalty, and they were headed back to the penalty kill.
Despite Toronto doing a good enough job to kill off the first Vancouver power play, they couldn’t do it a second time, as JT Miller shot one from a distance and beat Samsonov for the game’s first goal. Surprisingly, this was the first time Toronto had allowed the first goal since their game in Boston 10 days ago.
The main problem for Toronto over the past handful of games has been allowing goals immediately following a goal from them, but Toronto decided to switch it up tonight. Toronto was given a power play as Tyler Myers went to the box for cross-checking William Nylander at center ice. And although they didn’t score on the power play, the second unit tied things up seconds after the man advantage expired.
Tyler Bertuzzi, who has been looking better and better lately, tried to bank the puck off Demko’s behind, but Matthew Knies banged home the loose puck for his fourth of the season.
With the game tied back up and Scotiabank Arena loving it, Vancouver’s Ian Cole trucked Nick Robertson as he was trying to skate the puck out of his zone, and it caught Max Domi’s attention. Just like Giordano coming to the defence of Kampf, Domi went after Cole for his questionable hit on Robertson.
Unfortunately, Toronto was given another penalty for instigating, and they handed the Canucks another power play. It was the same story as their second penalty kill. Vancouver got on the board with another special teams goal to retake the lead in the first period. It wasn’t the best period for Toronto. They got out-shot, out-chanced, out-scored, out-hit, and lost the face-off battle, but they were only down by one goal.
It’s common to say that if a team had a poor first period, you’d hope they come out with a little more jump and urgency in the second period, and that’s what the Toronto Maple Leafs did. With the score 2-1 for Vancouver, Toronto needed to score the next goal and get things tied up again. Luckily for the fans in attendance, the man, who owned a 14-game point streak heading into last night’s game, scored his 10th of the season to extend his season-opening point streak to 15 and tie the game 2-2.
Similar to Marner’s shootout goal against Calgary, Nylander probably didn’t draw it up like that, but it worked, so who cares? With the game tied and Toronto taking more sloppy penalties, their penalty kill needed to be sharp this period because after allowing two power-play goals in the first period, it looked like the penalty kill would be brutal yet again.
Toronto did well to kill off the three penalties they took this period, and with five and half minutes left in the second period, the fourth line, without Ryan Reaves, actually scored a goal. Noah Gregor, who scored Toronto’s first goal this season against Montreal back on opening night, sniped his second goal on the year past Demko to give Toronto the lead.
Toronto would continue their brilliant second period, but Thatcher Demko was up to the task. The Maple Leafs had a much better effort in the second period. They out-shot and out-scored Vancouver, which helped them take a 3-2 lead into the second intermission.
Up to this point in the game, the Maple Leafs had been giving the fans a much better all-around effort in this one compared to previous home games. Although they were getting out-shot for the entirety of the game, the majority of the Canucks’ shots came on the power play, and Toronto limited them to zero goals at even-strength.
With Toronto already up 3-2, they wouldn’t let Vancouver get back into this thing. So what did they do? The new-look third line extended their goal streak to four games as Nick Robertson shovelled a backhander past Demko to extend his own point streak to four games since being called up.
With Robertson’s second goal of the season, Toronto has gotten two goals from the bottom six, and fans couldn’t be happier. But the bottom six didn’t stop there because the fourth line scored another goal without Ryan Reaves. Noah Gregor, who scored Toronto’s third goal, threw the puck toward the net, and David Kampf was there to tip home his first goal in a very long time.
After Kampf scored his first goal in 35 games to make it 5-2 Toronto, fans at Scotiabank Arena were so excited that they started doing the wave for the remaining 10 minutes of the game, and that was good enough for Toronto to hang on to the lead and cruise past the Canucks for their second consecutive win and eighth of the season.
Who stood out:
It wasn’t just one or two lines doing all the work for Toronto. They got a goal from every line last night, and although they gave up 33 shots, the bulk of those shots came on the power play, where the Canucks did the majority of their damage. Ilya Samsonov also had a bounce-back game, stopping 31 of 33 shots en route to his third win of the season.
As I mentioned earlier, the new third line scored again, which makes it four consecutive games with a goal, and if I’m Sheldon Keefe, I’m happy that I have a line that looks like it can be a consistent threat to score goals in the bottom six.
Speaking of the bottom six, the fourth line finally scored! Noah Gregor and David Kampf found a way to each put one past Demko to end the narrative that Toronto’s fourth line couldn’t produce. Well, maybe they couldn’t score with Ryan Reaves on the ice because Bobby McMann, playing in his place last night, added two helpers in just 9:49 of ice time.
Lastly, William Nylander continues to do William Nylander things. He extended his season-opening point streak to 15 games last night with another goal and now has 22 points in 15 games this season, which has him tied for third among skaters in the league.
You can catch the Toronto Maple Leafs’ next game on November 17th, on TSN4, in Sweden when they take on the Detroit Red Wings. Puck drop is scheduled for 2:00 pm ET/11:00 am PT.
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