Photo credit:Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Marner passes Mahovlich on franchise points list with 4-point effort as Maple Leafs pummel Sharks
By Joseph Zita1 month ago
Returning home after a very successful California road trip, sweeping the Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, and San Jose Sharks, the Toronto Maple Leafs hosted San Jose last night as both teams completed their rare home-and-home series against each other.
After playing each other in San Jose on the weekend, there was a lot of familiarity between the two sides ahead of their game last night. When these two teams last met, it was a dominating performance from Toronto, especially in the first period when the Maple Leafs outshot the Sharks 17-3 and outscored them 1-0. Although it was a quiet first half to the first period with eight combined shots (5-3 Toronto), the second half of the opening frame delivered for the fans in attendance and watching on TV, and it started with a handful of shifts in the offensive zone, putting pressure on the Sharks defensively.
After ringing iron a couple of times, the floodgates finally opened for Toronto as William Nylander drew two players toward him, opening up the ice for Morgan Rielly to skate down the slot unmarked, and he roofed his fifth of the season past Kaapo Kahkonen for the 1-0 lead.
Almost immediately after taking a 1-0 lead, Alexander Barabanov was whistled for holding, putting the Maple Leafs on the man advantage. It didn’t take them quite long to build on their lead as Auston Matthews, from a ridiculous angle, sniped his 31st of the season to double their lead. Nylander, who grabbed an assist on the first goal, grabbed a secondary assist on the Matthews goal for two points in the first period.
Toronto entered the first intermission up 2-0 and outshooting San Jose 16-5.
It didn’t take the Maple Leafs long to get back on the scoreboard after scoring two late goals in the first period. Just 54 seconds into the second frame, Mitch Marner redirected a Jake McCabe shot, in impressive fashion, past Kahkonen for his 16th of the season.
Similarly to the two first-period goals, Toronto found the scoresheet again just over a minute later as the fourth line went to work. With one hand on his stick, Pontus Holmberg drove the net aggressively and shoveled the puck over Kahkonen’s pad for his first of the season and gave his team a commanding 4-0 lead early in the middle frame.
However, after two quick goals for Toronto, Simon Benoit took a penalty to put San Jose on their first power play of the night. As the man advantage was expiring, Henry Thrun broke Martin Jones’ early shutout bid with his first NHL goal because, of course.
After the Sharks finally got on the board, the Maple Leafs took over the period again as they dominated for the remaining 13 minutes. Although they couldn’t build on their lead further, they managed to exceed their 16 shots from the first period, as they recorded 19 shots and limited the Sharks to eight.
The Maple Leafs entered the second intermission up 4-1 and held a 35-13 shot advantage.
Up 4-1 and outplaying the Sharks, a win was inevitable for the Maple Leafs, but to make sure, they had to play the third period smart and mistake-free against another inferior team. And just like the first two periods, Toronto scored in bunches to extend their lead, this one coming a little over a minute into the final period of regulation.
Mitch Marner found Jake McCabe with a sweet dish cross-ice as he jumped in the play to score his second of the season, extending Toronto’s lead to 5-1.
Just two and a half minutes after McCabe scored, Marner, who scored in the first period and was sitting on three points, banged home his 17th of the season and second of the night on the power play, giving Toronto an enormous 6-1 lead early in the final period. That goal gave Marner four points on the night, passing Frank Mahovlich for 7th place on the franchise’s all-time points list (598).
At this point, Toronto could’ve cruised to victory, and they did. You could tell at a moment in the third period they weren’t trying to score goals once they entered San Jose’s zone, but if they happened to score, that’s cool. After Marner scored Toronto’s sixth goal on the night on the power play, which was given to Toronto for a double-minor high sticking penalty, Nick Robertson decided to get in on the action as well, sniping his sixth of the season past Blackwood to wrap this game up.
In the remaining 14:06 of the third period, both teams traded chances, but no one else scored, meaning 7-1 was the final score, giving Toronto their fourth straight win, outscoring their opponents 16-3. Although three of these four wins came against the Ducks and Sharks, these are games the Maple Leafs needed to win, and they did.
Who stood out:
It’s hard not to look good when you play opponents like the San Jose Sharks, and I’m not trying to be rude, but that Sharks team is brutal. Like the Ducks game last week and their meeting against the Sharks on the weekend, I don’t think anybody on the Maple Leafs looked awful. Everybody did their job, and it was another great team win.
Now, of course, certain players stood out more than others. That’s going to happen in games. As mentioned above, Mitch Marner recorded four points (two goals and two assists) and passed Frank Mahovlich for 7th place on the franchise’s all-time points list with 598 points. That is wild to think about. Toronto has four players on their current roster (Marner, Matthews, Nylander, and Rielly) who can be at the top of many lists in franchise history.
Fresh off a $92M extension, William Nylander did William Nylander things last night. He picked up three more assists for his sixth three-point game of the season, giving him 57 points on the year, good enough for third in NHL scoring (tied with Artemi Panarin).
Although he wasn’t tested much, Martin Jones started his fifth consecutive game for Toronto and picked up his fourth straight win with another solid outing. The 33-year-old picked up his eighth win of the season (8-3-0), and after allowing one goal last night, that marked just three goals against in his previous four games. Outstanding stuff.
Many other players looked solid in yesterday’s dominant win, but this article would be too long if I talked about everyone.
You can catch the Toronto Maple Leafs’ next game Thursday night when they go on the road to take on the New York Islanders. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT.
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