No. 1000 for John Tavares, T.J. Brodie returns, and another REVENGE game for Ilya Samsonov: Leafs Tailgate

Photo credit:Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Nick Alberga
1 year ago
John Tavares will skate in his 1000th NHL game and Ilya Samsonov will make his sixth straight start as the Leafs (30-12-8) host the Washington Capitals (26-19-6) for a rare Sunday night home game.
Additionally, after missing 10 games with a rib injury, T.J. Brodie is expected to return to the Maple Leafs lineup.
Toronto’s coming off a lopsided 6-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Friday night in the third of five in a row at Scotiabank Arena. Speaking of which, thrusted into last-minute action after Matt Murray’s ankle flared up in warm-ups, Ilya Samsonov made 28 saves on route to dropping his first game in regulation on home ice (14-1-1). What a sewer job that was.
Meantime, this will mark the third and final meeting this season between the Leafs and Capitals. Both teams have won at home so far. Toronto took the opener, 3-2, on October 13th before Washington responded with a 5-2 victory at Capital One Arena on December 17th. The Caps last played on Thursday night when they outlasted the rivals Penguins 3-2 in a shootout. Alex Ovechkin and company are currently clinging to a wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference.
WSH Darcy Kuemper – LIKELY (15-13-4, 2.54, 0.917, 5 SO)
TOR Ilya Samsonov – CONFIRMED (16-5-2, 2.37, 0.916, 2 SO)
331 with Toronto, 669 with the New York Islanders. What a career and what a journey it’s been for the captain. Tonight, John Tavares will skate in his 1000th NHL game. It’s pretty crazy, I remember covering him in Junior, specifically when he was a brief member of the London Knights while I studied journalism at Fanshawe College. Time sure does fly. From the very beginning, it was profoundly clear Tavares was special. And so far, I don’t think he’s disappointed. He’s the epitome of class, and to this day, I still feel like he’s the perfect captain for this squad. Cheers to 1000!
While Matt Murray has yet to square off against his former mates (in two attempts) for the first time, tonight will mark the third time Ilya Samsonov will tangle with his former squad. He made 24 stops in the first meeting (3-2 W) and was shelled for five goals on 28 shots in his return to D.C. in the second outing. Any way you slice it, notwithstanding that sewer job on Friday night, Samsonov’s firmly in the process of solidifying Toronto’s No. 1 job in between the pipes. In nine January appearances, he’s tallied a 5-2-2 record to go along with a 2.63 goals-against average and 0.909 save-percentage. With the seemingly constant mystery surrounding Matt Murray’s availability on a game-by-game basis, suffice it is to say, Samsonov’s emergence has been a welcome sight. He’s been a nice story.
After missing 10 games with a rib injury, T.J. Brodie is expected to return to the lineup tonight. He skated on a pairing with Morgan Rielly in practice on Saturday. Once again, the Leafs are coming off an abysmal defensive effort on Friday night against Ottawa. Just brutal. Luckily, Brodie will help with that. It’s been a weird season for the 32-year-old. Known for his stability and longevity, he’s already missed 22 games this season with two different injuries. Not ideal, but it happens. When healthy, there’s no question Brodie brings a calming presence and influence to the back-end. Make no mistake about it, not only is he underrated, but he’s under-appreciated, too. Good to have him back.
Courtesy our friends at PointsBet Canada, here’s tonight’s lines & odds:
John Tavares Over 3.5 SOG (-134)

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