Nylander’s 3-point night, Matthews’ 53rd of season help lift Maple Leafs to 4-2 win over Coyotes

Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Zita
1 month ago
It wasn’t the result the Toronto Maple Leafs were looking for on Tuesday night when their seven-game winning streak ended at the hands of the Vegas Golden Knights. But the Maple Leafs welcomed the Arizona Coyotes into Scotiabank Arena last night, looking to get back in the win column following that loss.

First period:

Last night was the second game on the homestand for the Toronto Maple Leafs. And after dropping their opening game, 6-2, to the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday night, you’d expect them to come out with a sense of urgency to get back in the win column against a struggling Arizona Coyotes team.
Well, the game got off to a slow-ish start. Either the shot clock was broken, or both teams couldn’t hit the net. The first shot from either team didn’t get recorded until just before the midway point in the period from Auston Matthews.
After Matthews broke the ice with the first recorded shot of the game, shots on goal started to come for both sides. Both goalies weren’t tested much, but a breakaway from Mitch Marner with roughly seven minutes to go generated a scoring chance and a goal.
After stealing the puck near his blue line, Marner bolted up the ice and pulled off his signature breakaway move – dropping the puck back for the trailing player. Matthew Knies, the trailing player, potted home his 11th of the season against his hometown team for the 1-0 lead.
With Toronto on the board and the crowd loving it, the fourth line delivered another productive couple of shifts in the offensive zone, hemming the Coyotes in their end of the ice. On one of their offensive zone shifts, Ryan Reaves delivered a thunderous hit on Juuso Valimaki while forechecking, and it caught the attention of his teammate, Liam O’Brien.
The two heavyweights dropped the gloves on the following face-off, with Reaves getting the better of the Coyote player. After winning the tilt, Reaves got up and hyped the Scotiabank Arena crowd up with a flex of his bicep.
Toronto entered the first intermission up 1-0 and outshot 9-8.

Second period:

It took a while for either team to register a shot on goal in the first period, and Toronto’s opening goal didn’t happen until there were roughly seven minutes to go in the frame. However, that was not the case to start the second period.
Just a little over a minute into the frame, off an offensive zone face-off win, William Lagesson fired a shot from the point, and it took a redirect off Tyler Bertuzzi and found its way past Connor Ingram for the 2-0 lead. After being snakebitten through the first 52 games, scoring six goals, Bertuzzi’s goal in the second period gave him six in his last seven.
After a quick strike from the second line to open the period, the Maple Leafs used the Bertuzzi goal as energy, looking like the more engaged team through the first handful of minutes. Toronto got out to a 6-1 shot advantage, limiting the Coyotes to almost no offence and looking for a third goal themselves.
The fourth line, which had a couple of solid shifts in the offensive zone in the opening period, continued that into the next 20 minutes, coming close to scoring a couple of times. Still, Connor Ingram was there to answer the scoring chances, keeping his team in the game and the score at 2-0.
Unfortunately for the Coyotes, a neutral zone turnover from them sprung Matthew Knies and William Nylander on a 2-on-1. Knies fed Nylander, who dropped it back for Auston Matthews, and he sniped his 53rd of the season, extending his team’s lead to 3-0.
With a solid tilt from Reaves and three goals from the home side, Scotiabank Arena was treasuring the game so far, and they were treated to a power play just over midway through the second period, sending the top-ranked power play to the man advantage. However, a miscommunication from a couple of Toronto players at the offensive blue line sprung former Maple Leaf Alex Kerfoot on a short-handed breakaway, and he floated his 10th of the season over Joseph Woll, cutting into Toronto’s lead.
The Maple Leafs couldn’t get anything going for the remainder of the power play, and throughout the remaining five-plus minutes, the Coyotes started to come on after the Kerfoot goal.
Toronto entered the second intermission up 3-1 and outshooting Arizona 22-19.

Third period:

Nursing a two-goal lead entering the final period against a team on a 13-game losing streak, knowing you’re going to get a third-period push from them, can be a dangerous thing and a dangerous thing it was for the Maple Leafs.
As soon as the puck dropped for the third period, it was evident Arizona was dialled in, looking to chip away at their deficit. They came at Toronto in waves, shift after shift, looking for that second goal to build on Alex Kerfoot’s short-handed marker toward the end of the second period.
They came close a couple of times, almost beating Joseph Woll, but the goalie’s best friend, the post, was there to keep the puck out twice.
Unfortunately, the third time the puck rang iron, it bounced into the crease, and Logan Cooley banged home his ninth of the season just before the midway point in the period, cutting Toronto’s lead to just one.
The pressure from the road team continued after the Cooley goal, leaving the crowd at Scotiabank Arena nervous for what could’ve been a third Arizona goal, completing a potential 3-0 blown lead from the home team. Luckily, William Nylander buried the empty netter for his 32nd goal of the season, capping off a three-point night and securing his team with the 4-2 win, breaking a 20-plus year streak without a regulation win at home against the Arizona Coyotes.

Who stood out:

It was a weird game last night. As mentioned above, both teams struggled to generate shots through the first eight-ish minutes of the opening period, and once Matthews recorded the first shot, they started to come in bunches. Toronto looked like the better team through 40 minutes, but Arizona dominated them in the final period.
The fourth line – without Noah Gregor for the third consecutive game – of Holmberg, Kampf, and Reaves had another solid performance in last night’s 4-2 win over the Coyotes. They didnt get on the scoreboard, but they continue to play multiple shifts 200 feet from their net, which is a coach’s dream. According to Moneypuck.com, they generated an xGF of 0.93 in 8:43 of ice-time at five-on-five. Those shifts from the three of them, along with Reaves’ first-period fight, are everything you’d like to see from Toronto’s fourth line.
With a three-point performance (one goal and two assists), William Nylander extended his point streak to nine games, giving him 82 points on the season.
Last night, he became the third player in franchise history to record three consecutive 80-point seasons, joining some elite company.
Mitch Marner also made some Maple Leafs history last night as well. With his assist on Matthew Knies’ first-period goal, he became the third player in franchise history to record five 50-assist seasons, tying Borje Salming for the second most.
You can catch the Toronto Maple Leafs’ next game on Saturday night when they continue their homestand against the New York Rangers. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT.
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