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Maple Leafs score a touchdown as they cruise past the Flyers 6-2

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Photo credit:Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Zita
25 days ago
After four days removed from a narrow 3-2 win against the Montreal Canadiens, the Toronto Maple Leafs returned to action to take on the Philadelphia Flyers for the second time this season, which concluded the Maple Leafs’ mini three-game road trip.

First period:

With a four-day break in between games, Toronto should’ve had a jump from the start of the game, and that’s indeed what they had.
Just over two minutes into the game, the Maple Leafs opened the scoring first with a goal from a broken line. William Nylander, who jumped on the ice for Calle Jarnkrok, cut into the middle and fed Auston Matthews with a backhand pass. After receiving the puck, Matthews instantly fired the puck low to the front of the crease where Tyler Bertuzzi was, and the Sudbury native tapped in his 13th of the season.
Toronto came out ready for this game, generating the game’s first couple of scoring chances and, of course, the opening goal from Bertuzzi 2:01 into the first period. Philadelphia would even up the shots after getting into an early 4-1 deficit, but Ilya Samsonov was ready for the challenge. The third line of Matthew Knies, David Kampf, and Bobby McMann had an offensive zone shift and almost scored but forced Samuel Ersson to freeze the puck, giving them an offensive zone face-off. Knies got dumped at the side of the net, and neither Timothy Liljegren nor Joel Edmundson joined the little scrum, which kept the face-off inside the Flyers’ zone.
Luckily for them, it benefited Toronto. Off the ensuing face-off, Connor Dewar won the draw to Morgan Rielly, who fired it toward the net. The puck took a bounce off Dewar’s skate, and Pontus Holmberg collected the puck and ripped his fourth of the season past Ersson.
Up by two goals in the first period, Toronto continued pressuring Philadelphia, looking for their third goal. Technically, they did find it. Unfortunately, it did not count. After getting hit along the boards by Garnet Hathaway, Auston Matthews slightly touched the puck with his glove, and Tyler Bertuzzi immediately picked the puck up. The puck made its way around the boards and to the point where Timothy Liljegren fired it toward the net. Bertuzzi stuck out his stick and tipped it past Ersson, but after a quick review, it was overturned due to a missed game-stoppage hand pass.
The Flyers were awarded a power play soon after their video team caught the hand-pass, allowing them an opportunity to get back in the game as Morgan Rielly was sent to the box for hooking. Fortunately for Toronto, their penalty kill killed it off. After returning to five-on-five, Liljegren decided to skate the puck on his own through the neutral zone and ripped a bobbling puck as soon as crossing the offensive blue line for his third goal of the season, giving them the 3-0 lead for real this time.
Ilya Samsonov also recorded a secondary assist on Liljegren’s goal, giving him his first this season and the fourth of his career.
Toronto entered the first intermission up 3-0 and tied in shots 12-12.

Second period:

Similarly to Toronto opening the scoring two minutes into the first period, it was Philadelphia’s turn to score an early goal to start the second frame. After going 0-for-1 on the power play in the previous period, Philadelphia was headed back to the man advantage after Jake McCabe was whistled for tripping 1:29 in. Unlike their first penalty kill, the Maple Leafs couldn’t kill off the entire two minutes, and Owen Tippett got his team on the board 13 seconds into the power play for his 24th of the season, cutting into Toronto’s lead.
A pushback from the Flyers was expected, and their first couple of shifts of the period before and following Tippett’s goal proved that. After allowing a power play goal, Toronto slowly settled back into the game, creating a handful of glorious looks on Felix Sandstrom, who came in relief for Samuel Ersson at the start of the second frame but couldn’t find a way to get the puck past the 27-year-old netminder. After settling back into the game, the Maple Leafs looked like the better team but had a couple of moments in the period where the Flyers hemmed them in their zone for a bit, almost scoring, but Ilya Samsonov was there to deny them.
Philadelphia then had a solid 3-5 minute stretch in the second half of the frame, which also included another power play opportunity, but Toronto weathered the storm, keeping the game at 3-1. Toronto entered the second intermission up 3-1 and outshot 21-19.

Third period:

Despite scoring three goals in the first period, scoring was difficult for Toronto in the middle frame. You mix that with the fact Philadelphia scored to cut into Toronto’s lead, it made things interesting heading into the final period. However, the Maple Leafs decided not to make things intriguing and decided to score three goals in 4:15 to take a commanding 6-1 lead just before the midway point in the frame.
To start, Auston Matthews was sprung on a breakaway from a pass by Pontus Holmberg and ripped his 55th of the season past Sandstrom. Before the goal, Ilya Lyubushkin broke the puck out to Holmberg in the neutral zone and took a massive hit from Garnet Hathaway.
Just eight seconds after Matthews got on the board, William Nylander got in on the fun and scored his 35th of the season, giving the Maple Leafs the 5-1 lead with 15 minutes remaining.
Seconds after their power play expired, Matthew Knies buried his 12th of the season to finish a pretty passing play between Timothy Liljegren, Jake McCabe and himself four minutes after the Nylander goal. If you watch the replay of this entire sequence, you’d see three Flyers players without sticks trying to defend Toronto.
Nursing a five-goal lead with a little over 10 minutes left in the game, Toronto could’ve just played out the clock. However, things got a little heated between the two sides, likely given the score, and it resulted in both Max Domi and Garnet Hathaway being kicked out with roughly seven minutes left.
Toronto also went to their fourth power play after Matthew Knies was hit in the face with Cam York’s stick/hand, but the poor power play continued. The Flyers got on the board again with under two minutes to go in the game as Tyson Foerster blasted his 17th of the season past Samsonov short-handed. Nevertheless, the Leafs handily walked away with the win.

Who stood out:

After a bad showing from the Matthews line on Saturday night against the Montreal Canadiens (Bertuzzi, Matthews, and Nylander), Tyler Bertuzzi had himself a game last night, scoring his 13th goal of the season and picking up an assist on the Liljegren goal in the first period. He also had a goal called back due to a hand pass in the offensive zone, but after watching him play last night, it was evident he was one of the best players on the ice for Toronto.
His relentlessness on the puck has always been a treat to watch, and not only did he continue that into last night, but it felt like the puck was a magnet to him during the game. He and whoever his linemates were on the ice (due to Jarnkrok leaving the game and the lines being shaken up a bit) had many chances to score. With his two-point effort, Bertuzzi is now up to 31 points on the season, including nine in his last ten games (six goals and three assists).
Ilya Samsonov made big saves for the Leafs when called upon, stopping 26 of 28 shots. With last night’s win, the 26-year-old is now 13-3-0 in his last 16 starts since returning from his little break from the NHL, as he turned aside 26 of 28 shots to pick up his 18th win of the season (18-5-6).
Along with Bertuzzi, four other players had multi-point games (Matthews, Nylander, Holmberg, and Liljegren) to cap off point night for Toronto. Auston Matthews netted his 55th goal of the season to put him back on pace for 70 goals this year. William Nylander’s two-point night gives him 86 on the year, one shy from his career-high set last season, good enough for eighth in league scoring, tied with Leon Draisaitl.
You can catch the Toronto Maple Leafs’ next game on Saturday night when they return home to debut their brand new Toronto St. Pats jerseys against the Carolina Hurricanes. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT.
(Stats from hockey-reference.com)

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