Two-point effort from Rielly, 31-save performance from Woll lift Maple Leafs to 4-1 win over Stars
Photo credit:Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
By Joseph Zita1 month ago
The scene last night was in Dallas, Texas, as Toronto continued their five-game road trip down south to take on the red-hot Dallas Stars after picking up back-to-back wins on this road trip. The Leafs didn’t look their best against the Capitals Wednesday night, yet came away with a convincing 4-1 win, and came into Thursday night’s tilt looking to continue that winning recipe against the Stars.
It was a much better start to the game for the Maple Leafs compared to their last game against Washington. They went straight to work and hemmed the Stars in their zone for a bit but couldn’t register a shot on the net. They did well at working the puck from low to high and attempted some shots but couldn’t get them on target. As time went on in the first, both teams started to generate chances on the net, but both goalies were up to the early task of saving them.
Dallas was awarded a power play roughly seven minutes into the period thanks to a Marner hooking penalty. However, luckily for Toronto, that penalty was negated about a minute and a half into the power play because Dallas’ Wyatt Johnston was whistled for slashing.
With both teams playing four-on-four hockey, it was Toronto opening the scoring off a beautiful play by Nylander to set up Morgan Rielly for his second of the season.
I’m running out of things to say about Nylander. Seriously. He extended his point streak to seven games to begin the season and now has 11 points. Toronto would take their 1-0 lead into the first intermission after displaying one of their better all-around periods this season.
After limiting Dallas to just five shots in the first period and playing one of their better defensive periods this season, Dallas came out flying, throwing six shots on Joseph Woll through the first two and a half minutes, including this ridiculous save from Woll on Robertson.
Toronto was given an early break to weather the Stars storm as they headed to the power play for the second time tonight, but couldn’t capitalize on the man advantage as Dallas killed off yet another power play. Both teams continued to trade chances as the period went on, and one of Dallas’ shifts in the offensive zone lasted so long that almost every player on Toronto had been out for an entire two minutes. Toronto would eventually clear the puck, but Knies couldn’t get it deep enough, and the Stars caught the Maple Leafs on a partial line change as former Maple Leaf Mason Marchment tied the game at one.
Dallas kept applying the pressure and limited Toronto, but it only took them so far. A neutral zone face-off win for the Maple Leafs led to their second goal of the game as Auston Matthews set Mitch Marner up in front of the net, and he put home his second of the season.
It wasn’t a pretty period for the road team by any means, as the Stars were the better team through the middle 20. But Toronto deserves some credit for finding the back of the net late in the frame to retake the lead and head into the second intermission up 2-1.
Toronto needed to come out in the third period with more jump than the previous period because Dallas was all over them in the first five minutes. Well, that’s what they did. The Maple Leafs strung a couple of shifts together in the offensive zone, and they were eventually awarded a four-minute power play after Jani Hakanpaa was called for the high stick. Before this power play, Toronto was 0-for-2 on the man advantage as Dallas kept their perfect penalty kill alive to begin the season. However, Rielly threw the puck on net, and Tyler Bertuzzi tipped home his second of the season past Wedgewood as the Maple Leafs scored on the first minor penalty.
That play wouldn’t have happened if Matthew Knies hadn’t made this ridiculous play to keep the puck in the offensive zone.
Once the Maple Leafs went up 3-1, the Stars were going to start throwing everything at the net to try and get back in this game. Dallas outshot Toronto 11-6 in the final period and pretty much controlled the play for the last five minutes of the game, including when they pulled the goalie for the extra attacker. They couldn’t mount the late third-period comeback as Toronto held on for the win, but not before John Tavares found the empty net for his fourth of the season as he extended his point streak to seven games to begin the season.
Who stood out:
A lot of guys stood out to me in last night’s game.
Joseph Woll, yet again, was up for the task and had himself a 31-save win to improve to 3-1-0 in the early season. Although Keefe has come out and said Samsonov is the likely starter against Nashville tomorrow, I wouldn’t be surprised if Woll gets the nod against the Kings at home Tuesday night.
Rielly had himself a night as well. After Jake McCabe left the game not even a minute in, the defence had to step up and eat more minutes. Obviously, Rielly played a lot. 26:13 of ice time, to be exact, but he also scored for the second consecutive game and tallied an assist on Bertuzzi’s power-play goal. What he has shown so far this season, especially in the last two games, is the same player from the playoffs last season.
William Nylander and John Tavares continue to produce. I won’t spend too much time talking about these two studs because I feel like a broken record, but both of them extending their point streak to seven games to open the season is crazy stuff. I don’t think this pace is sustainable, but what they have shown in the early going is promising.
In the pregame article yesterday, I mentioned how Toronto wanted to see more from Bertuzzi because two points in his first six games isn’t the greatest, especially with him playing in the top-six. But last night was a good sign as Bertuzzi tipped home his second of the season, and even Sheldon Keefe thought he had a great game.
You can catch the Toronto Maple Leafs’ next game on Sportsnet Saturday night against the Nashville Predators as they close out their five-game road trip. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT.
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