Samsonov turns aside 32 shots as Maple Leafs narrowly defeat Rangers 4-3 in shootout

Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Zita
1 month ago
Last night, on the Saturday before the 2024 NHL trade deadline, the Toronto Maple Leafs welcomed two additions, Calle Jarnkrok (broken knuckle) and Ilya Lyubushkin (trade), into their lineup for the third and final meeting of the season against the red-hot New York Rangers.

First period:

Similarly to the Maple Leafs’ game against the Coyotes on Thursday night, you felt the energy in Scotiabank Arena after the national anthems finished before the drop of the puck last night. Saturday night, two original six teams, two top 10 teams in the league this season, the Saturday before the trade deadline. It had all the makings for a good game.
The game started well for the Maple Leafs. They weren’t recording a boatload of shots on Igor Shesterkin but were getting their chances in front of the net. The only problem was they were on the other end of some puck luck, preventing them from finding the back of the net.
From behind the net, Mitch Marner found a wide-open Auston Matthews in the slot, but the puck hopped over his stick, whiffing on the one-timer that could’ve been put into the open net with Shesterkin looking the other way. A bit of bad luck to start, it happens.
Other scoring chances from Toronto went just wide, narrowly missing the net. The fourth line, which continues to play great hockey, had another solid offensive zone shift. A puck got thrown to the front of the net, redirected off Ryan Reaves’ skate and barely missed the right post.
A couple of shifts later, the second line was on the ice, and Tyler Bertuzzi narrowly redirected the puck on the net, but it just went wide. The chances were coming, but they couldn’t find the net, and when they did, they couldn’t beat Shesterkin.
As the period progressed, the Rangers started to come on. Both teams were given power plays throughout the frame, but neither could capitalize on the man advantage. However, at five-on-five, Alexis Lafreniere broke the ice, scoring his 18th of the season after a lazy defensive play from Toronto’s second line, resulting in a benching for William Nylander.
Toronto entered the first intermission down 1-0, outshooting New York 12-10.

Second period:

It wasn’t a terrible first period from Toronto, but it was far from perfect, which saw them down 1-0 entering the second frame. They had a handful of good looks that either missed the net or got blocked on the way to the net, so a good start with some chances on goal would be ideal for them.
Well, ask, and you shall receive. Less than four minutes into the period, Mitch Marner won a battle along the wall against two Rangers players and took the puck directly to the net. He whiffed on his first shot, but his second shot beat Shesterkin five-hole for his 24th of the season, tying the game at one.
Unfortunately, after tying the game at one early in the period, a turnover from the same line in the offensive zone sent the Rangers on a 3-on-2 in transition, and Vincent Trocheck snapped his 21st of the season, retaking the lead just 1:09 after Marner scored for Toronto.
With two goals from both sides coming just over five minutes into the new frame, there was a chance the period was on track to be hectic. But in reality, it wasn’t. Toronto looked like the better team in the middle period, creating more chances.
After being benched for a good chunk of the first period, William Nylander was back on the ice with his regular linemates and got on the board for his team. After spending some time in the offensive zone, tiring the opposition, the puck made its way to the point, and Nylander fired a shot toward the net, with Tyler Bertuzzi screening the goalie. The puck took a bounce off someone in front and beat Shesterkin for Nylander’s 32nd of the season, tying the game back up just before the midway point.
His 32nd goal in the second period extended his point streak to 10 games, giving him three 10+ game point streaks this season. Impressive stuff.
The Maple Leafs continued to generate chances, looking for the go-ahead goal with the second period nearing its end, but couldn’t find the back of the net before the horn sounded.
Toronto entered the second intermission tied 2-2, outshooting New York 22-16.

Third period:

With the score knotted up at two heading into the final period, the fans in attendance and those watching at home were in store for an entertaining final 20 minutes of hockey, with both teams looking to break the tie and pick up the win.
The Rangers had looked good up to this point, but the edge, in my opinion, went to the Maple Leafs after 40 minutes of play. So, expecting a push from New York in the third period was obvious.
A push from the road team did indeed happen, but Toronto was the one who scored the go-ahead goal roughly seven minutes into the period. The new-look third line, with Calle Jarnkrok on the wing instead of Nick Robertson, had been getting some chances throughout the night but couldn’t bury anything. Luckily, a simple shot from Jarnkrok from far out took a couple of bounces and banked off John Tavares and in for the 3-2 lead.
Now that Toronto had their first lead, they just needed to play mistake-free hockey for the remaining 13-ish minutes to close the game and walk away with the two points.
They were doing a fine job, but with a little under six minutes to go, Ryan Reaves, after challenging Matt Rempe to a fight twice and the rookie turning it down, finally got the 6’8 forward to drop the gloves for the most anticipated fight of the season thus far.
Rempe laid a questionable hit on Ilya Lyubushkin in the previous period, forcing him to leave the game. Upon the replay, Rempe charged Lyubushkin in the corner, left his feet, and delivered a hit to him. I guess this might’ve been retribution for that exact play, but either way, the two threw down at center ice.
I’d say the advantage went to Reaves in this one, but props to the kid for accepting the fight and not going down. Reaves got 3-5 solid shots on the rookie, but Rempe held his own with that insane reach advantage.
Now that the two had finally fought after many speculated whether they would or wouldn’t, the Rangers went back to work, searching for the tying goal. With their goalie pulled, Marner had the puck on his stick with roughly a minute and a half left on the clock. He rushed a backhand shot down the ice and unfortunately barely hit the post, getting called for icing.
Like clockwork, after icing the puck, Toronto lost the defensive zone face-off, and Vincent Trocheck banged home the rebound for his second goal on the night, tying the game at three with a little over a minute left.
Both teams headed to overtime to decide this one.

Overtime period/shootout

The game shouldn’t have gone to overtime, but nonetheless, Toronto and New York gave the fans some extra hockey.
After tying the game with just over a minute to go in regulation, the Rangers carried that momentum into overtime, which they’ve been good at this season, and outplayed the home team for the entirety of the five minutes, outshooting Toronto 5-0, coming close to ending the game a couple of times.
However, Ilya Samsonov had other plans. Toronto looked sloppy in the defensive zone for a good chunk of the overtime period, with Samsonov having to come up clutch for them multiple times, including this one save on Artemi Panarin.
Toronto was awarded a power play with seven seconds left after New York purposely took a too-many-men penalty, preventing an odd-man rush for the Maple Leafs, but couldn’t score, sending this game to the shootout.
Win or lose, I’ll always dislike the shootout. It’s not entertaining to decide a winner like that, especially after this game. Anyway, here were the rounds in the shootout:
Round one: Nylander miss – Panarin miss
Round two: Matthews miss – Zibanejad score
Round three: Marner score – Lafreniere miss
Round four: Domi score (winner) – Trocheck miss

Who stood out:

If it wasn’t for Ilya Samsonov, the Maple Leafs probably walk away from this game with one point. As mentioned above, he made some ridiculous saves in overtime – and even in regulation – that helped lead his team to this impressive 4-3 win over a darn good Rangers team that had been on a roll entering Toronto last night.
The new-look third line looked great, in my opinion, as well. It was their first game playing together, and according to Moneypuck.com, they played a total of 10:58 at five-on-five, won the shot attempt battle 22-7, outshot them 14-2, outscored their opposition 1-0, and generated an xGF of 1.74 and xGA of 0.05. That is flat-out impressive, and they deserve another look together.
Although their line didn’t look the best last night, William Nylander did find the back of the net, extending his point streak to 10 games, becoming the first player in franchise history with three 10+ game point streaks in a single season.
You can catch the Toronto Maple Leafs’ next game on Monday night when they continue their five-game homestand against the Boston Bruins. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT.

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