Photo credit:Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports
Matthews wins race to 30, Maple Leafs sweep back-to-back with overtime win against Ducks
By Joseph Zita1 month ago
After a solid showing against the Los Angeles Kings that resulted in a 3-0 win to kick off their California trip, the Toronto Maple Leafs rolled into Anaheim last night to close out their back-to-back against the 30th-placed depleted Ducks team.
Similar to Tuesday night’s first period against the Kings, the Toronto Maple Leafs thoroughly controlled the game in the first 20 minutes. From shots, shot attempts and zone time, Toronto seemed to pick up where they left off in their previous game, trying to get an early lead against a bottom-feeder team.
Although they were up against a Ducks team with a record of 13-23-0, good enough for 30th in the NHL standings, they were met with a goalie in Lukas Dostal, who was up to the task of facing this offence. Toronto was awarded a power play just three minutes into the game as Jamie Drysdale was whistled for slashing, and despite the power play not finding the back of the net, it’s what got the Maple Leafs going. After registering six shots on the man advantage, they carried that momentum of zone time and scoring chances to their five-on-five play, but Dostal was locked in, not allowing any Leaf player to score on him. Toronto ended up with 18 shots in the first 20 minutes and held Anaheim to just nine.
According to Naturalstattrick.com, the Maple Leafs dominated the Ducks in scoring chances (20-6) and high-danger chances (10-1). However, both teams headed into the first intermission tied at zero.
It was the same story to begin the second period for Toronto. They dominated Anaheim from the drop of the puck for the second frame, but Lukas Dostal remained locked into the game, stopping everything the Maple Leafs threw at him. Chance after chance through the first handful of minutes, the game remained tied at zero, but a big hit and fight spiced up the game a little.
Anaheim’s Pavel Mintyukov went to dump the puck down the ice but was met by Bobby McMann, who levelled him into the boards. The hit resulted in an immediate response from former Maple Leaf Ilya Lyubushkin, as he and McMann dropped the gloves for a quick fight.
McMann was handed a five-minute major and a game misconduct for the hit, even after review, so his night was finished six and a half minutes into the second period of the game. Anaheim was given a lengthy power play, but toward the end of the man advantage, Alex Killorn took a penalty to hand Toronto a power play. Unfortunately, the Maple Leafs gave up a short-handed goal to Frank Vatrano despite completely dominating them through the first 35 minutes of the game, and they saw themselves down 1-0 to another team well below them in the standings.
Toronto, desperately needing a goal to get back in this game, was awarded their third power play of the night with roughly five minutes to go in the period, but their power play woes continued, and they couldn’t get on the board to even the game up. Despite outplaying their opponent, the Maple Leafs headed into the second intermission down 1-0 yet outshooting the Ducks 33-19, out-chancing them 33-12, and leading the high-danger chances 15-4.
Bear with me sounding like a broken record here, but it was the same thing in the third period as the first two of the game. Toronto dominating Anaheim and skating circles around them. After 40 minutes, it was a 1-0 game, with Toronto trailing the 30th-placed Ducks, and if the Maple Leafs were to lose this game, you know Leaf Nation wouldn’t handle that well.
After countless shots and opportunities for this Maple Leafs squad, you hoped one would find its way past Dostal. Although it took longer than expected, Toronto finally got on the board with a power play goal from John Tavares, as he banged home a rebound for his 12th of the season to tie the game 1-1 on the team’s 51st shot on the night.
You could see the relief on the players’ faces after that puck finally beat Dostal because all Toronto needed was one goal to get this thing tied up, and anything could happen after that. Toronto pressed until the final horn for the late game-winner, but Dostal kept everything out, and both clubs headed for some extra hockey.
With both teams heading to overtime after the tying goal from John Tavares, there was a little concern for the Maple Leafs, given the Ducks hadn’t lost in overtime or shootout in the season up to this point, as they were 7-0 in games beyond regulation (3-0 in overtime and 4-0 in shootout).
However, the Toronto Maple Leafs ended up securing the two points in this game, as Mitch Marner fed Auston Matthews for his 30th of the season to help give his team the 2-1 win over the Ducks.
Matthews became the first player in the NHL this season to hit the 30-goal mark with that overtime winner. He has only played 35 games this season. Ridiculous.
Who stood out:
Another start for Martin Jones, another solid performance from the veteran netminder. After getting the start in Los Angeles and posting a 31-save shutout, Jones got the nod against Anaheim last night despite the possibility of Dennis Hildeby getting his first start of his career, and the 33-year-old stopped 27 shots in another Maple Leafs win.
Outside of Jones’ performance, I didn’t think anyone on the Maple Leafs looked awful, and it was the same feeling after the Kings game on Tuesday night. It helps because Toronto kicked Anaheim up and down the ice despite the final score being 2-1, but lots of players looked fine, and the big boys were trying to end Dostal’s shutout bid in the third period.
According to Moneypuck.com, the core four of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander and John Tavares combined for 59 shot attempts in regulation. Let that sink in. Toronto had over 100 shot attempts after 60 minutes of play, so the core four accounted for well over half of them.
With the amount of shots and shot attempts they recorded, they were rewarded for their effort. All four players combined for four points (and Rielly had two assists) as they helped take down a hot goalie on the Anaheim Ducks to give themselves back-to-back wins in California.
You can catch the Toronto Maple Leafs’ next game Saturday night when they close out their three-game California trip in San Jose against the Sharks. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT.
(Stats from Hockey-Reference.com)
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