Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Mitch Marner’s hat-trick and shootout winner propels Maple Leafs to victory over Kraken
By Joseph Zita2 months ago
The Toronto Maple Leafs snapped their two-game losing streak Tuesday night with a crazy 2-1 shootout win over the Panthers, and last night, they welcomed in the Seattle Kraken as they continued their three-game homestand, picking up another win on home ice with a 4-3 victory, again in the shootout.
Coming off an emotional win Tuesday night, the Maple Leafs needed to keep their foot on the gas against a struggling Kraken team that has not met expectations this year through the quarter mark of the 2023-24 season. Well, it didn’t quite start how they wanted it to. Jake McCabe took a tripping penalty three minutes into the game, and the Kraken went to the power play.
The Maple Leafs’ penalty kill went into last night’s game 16 for their last 16 over their previous five games, and that hot streak continued on this penalty kill, as Toronto didn’t give Seattle much to work with. Luckily for Toronto, they killed off that penalty and were awarded a power play soon after, as Ty Kartye was whistled for hooking.
Unlike Toronto’s penalty kill, their power play was heading in the other direction. They hadn’t scored on the man advantage in their previous 11 attempts, but that quickly changed when William Nylander found Mitch Marner to the right side of the net, and he put home his sixth of the season to break his eight-game goalless drought. Auston Matthews also picked up an assist on the goal.
At the point of Marner’s goal, Toronto had been the better team, and that continued throughout the first period. They outplayed the Kraken in almost every area of the game and won the special teams battle. They went two-for-two on the penalty kill and one-for-three on the power play, which helped them enter the first intermission up 1-0.
It was a much better showing from Toronto this first period than their first period against the Panthers. Not only did they lead the Kraken 1-0, but they out-shot them 13-7, out-chanced them 16-5, had more high-danger scoring chances (according to NaturalStatTrick.com) 7-3, and won the special teams battle, as I mentioned.
Toronto entered the second period on an abbreviated 21-second power play that carried over from the previous period, and they didn’t waste any time. As the power play was expiring, Matthews fed Marner on his one-timer side, and he rocketed his eighth of the season – second of the night – past Grubauer to double Toronto’s lead.
Unfortunately, William Lagesson would be called for tripping, and Toronto headed to the penalty kill for the third time just a couple of minutes into the second period. Seattle, who didn’t generate much on their first two power plays, finally beat Joseph Woll, as Jared McCann sniped one past him to cut the deficit in half and snap Toronto’s 18-for-18 streak.
Whether it was their power-play goal or the urgency to try and get back into the game after falling behind 2-0, Seattle mounted their push in the second period and didn’t give Toronto much to work with compared to the first period. However, that quickly changed as Mitch Marner got sprung on a breakaway and roofed his third of the night over Grubauer’s shoulder for the hat-trick.
Despite not having as good of a period as they did in the first, Toronto scored twice on just seven shots, as they were out-shot 17-7. It was the opposite of the first period, yet Toronto found themselves up 3-1 heading into the second intermission.
Although Toronto entered the third period up 3-1 against a non-playoff team that has struggled this season, they had to remain engaged in the game and not take their foot off the gas. They needed to build on their lead and come away with another win on home ice, but six minutes into the final period of regulation, Eeli Tolvanen roofed one over Woll for his sixth of the season to get his team back within one goal.
Toronto hadn’t looked as good as they did in the first period, and it was more of an impressive showing from Seattle from the start of the second period onward, and with that came Jared McCann’s second goal of the game with roughly six and a half minutes to go.
Both teams would trade chances for the remainder of the third as each club was trying to find the late game-winner, but we were headed to overtime for the fourth time in the last five games, as the game was tied 3-3.
It was yet another game with a blown lead and the inability of the Maple Leafs to close out a game in regulation, as they headed to overtime for the fourth time in the last five games. Although a win is a win at the end of the day, having only five regulation wins out of your 11 wins, which ranks you at the bottom of the league, is not good enough. Simple as that.
So, for the second straight game, Toronto had to try and win this game in extra time, but as the puck dropped to begin the overtime period, it didn’t look all that promising that Toronto was going to walk away with a win. Seattle won the face-off and dominated possession for the first two and a half minutes. When Toronto finally touched the puck, they turned it over and struggled to get out of their half of the ice, as the Kraken were pushing for the winner.
There was no game-winner in overtime, despite Seattle out-shooting Toronto 4-0, and the Maple Leafs were headed to the shootout yet again. But before we talk about the shootout, the only reason the game even got to the shootout was because of this save from Joseph Woll on Jordan Eberle.
So, with that save out of the way, Toronto was headed to the shootout for the second consecutive game. Auston Matthews scored first for the Maple Leafs, and Joseph Woll stopped both of Seattle’s shooters before Mitch Marner hopped over the boards and sniped home the game-winner.
Who stood out:
It wasn’t a pretty game, and they struggled to close it out in regulation, but I guess a win is a win at the end of the day.
Joseph Woll, as I mentioned above, was one of the reasons they won last night. It wasn’t a busy first period for him, but from the start of the second period onward, he faced 33 shots and was massive in overtime. The 25-year-old improved his record to 8-5-0 with his second straight win.
If you read my pregame article, I wrote about the top six and how I expected them to have a bounce-back game. Well, they delivered. Mitch Marner, who has struggled this season, netted his second career hat-trick and the eventual shootout winner. Auston Matthews registered two assists, and William Nylander also picked up an assist, snapping his mini three-game pointless streak after his unreal 17-game point streak.
Outside of Toronto allowing McCann to score on one of Seattle’s power plays, I thought it was another solid game from the special teams. The Maple Leafs went 1-for-3 on the power play and 4-for-5 on the penalty kill, which improved their penalty kill to 20 for its last 21 in the past six games.
You can catch the Toronto Maple Leafs’ next game Saturday night on Sportsnet against the Boston Bruins. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT.
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