Samsonov shines as Avalanche top Leafs in shootout: Muzzy’s Muzing’s

Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Nick Alberga
1 year ago
Not sure anyone saw that type of game coming.
Nathan MacKinnon notched the shootout winner as Colorado edged Toronto 2-1 on Wednesday night at Scotiabank Arena.
With the loss in the skills competition, the Leafs fell to 1-1-1 on their four-game homestand. By far, it was one of the best efforts in recent memory for Ilya Samsonov. The 26-year-old Russian netminder, who’s now a ridiculous 17-2-2 on home ice this season, made 28 stops. Alexandar Georgiev turned aside 17 shots to improve to 30-14-5.
Believe it or not, all the scoring took place in the first period. Morgan Rielly potted his third and Mikko Rantanen responded with his 43rd on the power play. From there, both teams, thanks to some steady defensive play and goaltending, locked things down.
Toronto went 0-for-3 on the power play, Colorado was 1-for-5. In two meetings with the defending Stanley Cup champs this season, the Leafs grabbed three of a possible four points. Not bad, not bad.
Despite heading into the first intermission tied at 1, I thought the Leafs looked pretty good in the opening 20. Against teams like Colorado, the margin for error is razor thin —that’s why it’s imperative to stay out of the box. Unsurprisingly, Mikko Rantanen made them pay. Luckily, that was the only power play tally Toronto surrendered in five times short. Suffice it is to say, they played with fire and lived to tell the tale. Additionally, Chris Cuthbert brought up a really good stat on the TV broadcast: Toronto’s now up to seven straight games without a lead at the end of the first period. Obviously, that trend’s worth monitoring, but long-term when the Stanley Cup Playoffs come around, the first period/starts will be even more amplified. Just to add further context here, the Leafs do currently rank fifth in the NHL with 69 (nice!) first period goals this season.
It’s weird to say, but I love how boring that game was. It was like a chess match, and I’m here for it. As I’ve been hammering home for the past few weeks, it’s so important for the Leafs to find themselves defensively again in time for Game 1 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Personally, I’d love to see them get back to that unreal November level. This game was a start. For the most part, they were extremely locked in. You love to see it!
As we inch closer to the postseason, the debate rages in the city over who should get the Game 1 start against the Lightning. At the very least, Ilya Samsonov’s outing on Wednesday night certainly won’t hurt his chances of getting that call. As has been the case all season long on home ice, he was tremendous making 28 total stops. He was a wall. A lot can change between now and mid-April, but for me, it’s not even close, Samsonov would be my guy with the added caveat that it’s highly likely we’ll see both guys play in the series anyway.
By far, that was one of Rielly’s better outings of the entire season —both offensively and defensively, for that matter. As soon as he hit the bar early on, you could just tell he was feeling it. Just moments later, he kicked off the scoring; it went right to his legs for the rest of the night. All-around, I was really impressed with his game. On top of that, I haven’t seen him skate with that pep in a long time. Believe it or not, confidence goes a long way in this game. Moving forward, it would be nice to see some consistency from No. 44. Furthermore, I want to see him string a bunch of good outings together in a row. I’m optimistic; leave me alone. They need Rielly to be Rielly again.
The Leafs will finish off their four game homestand on Friday night when they host the Carolina Hurricanes. In the first of three between the two teams this season on November 6th in Raleigh, Toronto pulled out an impressive 3-1 victory.
Don’t forget to check out ‘Leafs Morning Take’ with yours truly, Nick Alberga, and former Leaf Jay Rosehill every weekday morning LIVE at 11 a.m. ET on The Nation Network YouTube page.

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