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Pierre Engvall scores game-winner in return to Toronto, Maple Leafs fall 3-2 to Islanders

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Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Zita
20 days ago
After a brief break in the schedule for the 2024 NHL All-Star weekend, the Toronto Maple Leafs were among four teams to return to action last night as they hosted the New York Islanders for the third and final time this season, looking to get revenge against them and avoid the regular season series sweep.

First period:

The Islanders made their first visit to Toronto this season after the first two meetings were in New York, and similarly to the most recent meeting, the Islanders opened the scoring just over the halfway point in the first period after Mathew Barzal put home a rebound after a Mike Reilly shot initially struck the post. After playing alongside four Maple Leafs on Team Matthews just days prior, Barzal continued his elite play from the weekend, scoring the first goal of the game for his team.
Despite getting scored on first and not being able to find the back of the net, it wasn’t for a lack of trying for the Maple Leafs. They generated a ton of looks on Sorokin from a handful of different guys and looked quite good on the ice, but one of the league’s best netminders was up to the task early, keeping his team ahead on the scoreboard.
Toronto entered the first intermission down 1-0 and outshot 13-11.

Second period:

Although the first highlight of the second period wasn’t a goal, what happened eventually led to a goal for the home team.
Within seconds, Simon Benoit had Mathew Barzal lined up for a monster hit, but the Islanders forward was able to get out of the way, narrowly missing him. Bo Horvat, Barzal’s teammate, didn’t quite like the hit attempt and decided to drop the gloves with Benoit, sending both players to the box for fighting. Toronto also headed to the power play once some 4-on-4 hockey expired.
With both sides playing 4-on-4, Toronto took advantage of that almost immediately. Once the puck dropped for the offensive zone face-off, Mitch Marner collected the puck, skated right on in toward the net, and roofed his 21st of the season over Sorokin’s shoulder, tying the game at one.
It was a beauty of a shot from Marner to get his team on even terms. But not long after, Kyle MacLean, a rookie who served Horvat’s penalty, sneaked out of the box and got sprung on a breakaway, scoring his first NHL goal.
Although they fell behind on the scoreboard for the second time, it didn’t stop Toronto from generating chances in the Islanders’ zone. The second line of Bertuzzi, Tavares, and Nylander had plenty of looks alone in the second half of the period… but as mentioned above a couple of times, Sorokin was up to the task and showed why he is among the best goalies in the league.
Toronto entered the second intermission down 2-1 and outshot the Islanders 23-21.

Third period:

Despite the scoreboard saying 2-1 entering the third period, the game easily could’ve been different if it wasn’t for both goalies. And to start the final period, it was thanks to the post that the game remained 2-1. Within the first minute of the period, Auston Matthews got a shot off in front of the net. Unfortunately, he hit the left post, then the crossbar, then the right post, keeping the puck out of the Islanders’ net.
That trend continued for the Maple Leafs after that glorious chance from Matthews. They had their chances, but Sorokin and the post were not friendly to the home team last night because Toronto easily could’ve had four goals by this point in the game.
As the period aged and the scoring chances continued, the Leafs finally went to the power play for the second time, and lucky for them – they found the back of the net this time. Morgan Rielly fired a point shot toward the net, and John Tavares, who had been getting loads of chances, tipped home his 14th of the season past Sorokin, tying the game at two.
You could tell that Toronto was pressing, looking for the go-ahead goal late. But it seemed like it was tough for Toronto to score consecutive goals on Ilya Sorokin because he was the Islanders’ best player in last night’s game, up there with Mathew Barzal. The Russian netminder made plenty of spectacular saves on several Toronto players. It felt as if they needed to score an ugly goal again to get a third one past him.
Unfortunately, although they pushed and pushed, Sorokin stood his ground, keeping the game even, giving his team enough time to get the next goal in a tie game. However, it wasn’t just any Islanders player. Pierre Engvall was the one who scored the go-ahead goal with just over two minutes left in regulation.
Toronto pulled Samsonov for the extra attacker and came close to tying the game a couple of times, but ultimately fell short to the Islanders 3-2, who snapped Toronto’s three-game winning streak. Toronto has now fallen to 11-10-2 on home ice, which is not good enough.

Who stood out:

Despite scoring zero goals as a line, I thought the second line looked good last night. According to Moneypuck.com, the second line of Bertuzzi, Tavares, and Nylander had an xGF of 0.76 in just a little over 11 minutes at five-on-five. All three players combined for 15 shots in all situations, and each could’ve had a goal or two with some of the chances they generated throughout the game last night.
Another line that stood out to me was the fourth line of McMann, Holmberg, and Reaves. I know they don’t get asked to do much when they’re on the ice other than keep the puck 200 feet away from your net, but they had a couple of solid offensive zone shifts last night that looked like they tired the defending players. They didn’t look fantastic by any means, but I thought those two shifts from them and the physical presence of Ryan Reaves (five hits) were noticeable.
You can catch the Toronto Maple Leafs’ next game on Wednesday night when they host the Dallas Stars. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT.

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