With Simmonds out, a presence missing, and a few changes to the lines, the Leafs knew that the Canucks would bring everything they had to pull out a win, and hopefully not lose their 5th game in a row. The Canucks outshot the Leafs, and looked like they were getting something going, but never really did. From a slow start, to a tied game, and two speedy goals, the Leafs held on for their 10th win of the season and swept the Canucks as they head back home.
The first period started off a little slower than we’ve gotten used to. How did the Leafs not have a 3 goal lead within the first minutes of the game? Sorry, Canucks, just kidding (not really). A few good chances, including one by Ilya Mikheyev who’s been looking for a goal to snap his drought. Then a shot from the blue line by Mitch Marner, a bit of a puck battle by the net, then Morgan Rielly who picked up the rebound, and got the puck right past Braden Holtby. Tale as old as time.
You know the Canucks were fed up, and they were definitely putting more pressure on the Leafs. Outshooting the boys in blue at the end of the first at 11-3, but nothing to show for it …at least not yet. Auston Matthews took a Penalty for Interference around nine minutes into the second period which allowed Elias Pettersson to capitalize on their Power Play and tie it up at 1-1. Soon followed by another Penalty — shocking, I know. But this time against the Canucks, as Tanner Pearson was called for Tripping, but the Leafs were unable to really get anything going and convert.
The Leafs started the third period ready to go, with a few good chances as the puck dropped, and then a few minutes later on a Power Play, but they weren’t able to get anything past Holtby. And just around the half way mark of the period, none other than our favourite duo, a beautiful pass from Marner to Matthews, and they make it 2-1.
Oh, and did I mention that Matthews extended his goal streak to eight games? That’s right, he’s been able to find the back of the net in his last eight appearances. And to top it off, that goal made it his 300th point of his career. Making him the second youngest Maple Leaf in franchise history to do so. Well done, Papi, well done.
If that wasn’t exciting enough, just 11 seconds later a shot from Mikheyev to Alexander Kerfoot makes it 3-1. From a slow start to back to back goals, the Leafs were able to build some momentum, get pucks to the back of the net, and hold on for the win.
Most Valuable Leaf: Frederik Andersen
Andersen without a doubt deserved a shutout tonight. The Canucks outshot the Leafs 32-19, and is a big reason this game didn’t end in the Canucks favour. Andersen was calm, cool, and collected and didn’t let anything get to him (aside from the one goal that actually got past him, but we can ignore that). With a .969SV%, he’s my MVP of the night, and 1st star on the ice.
Least Valuable Leaf: William Nylander
I will preface this by saying that I hate picking a Least Valuable Leaf after a win and that I actually love Nylander. It was clear that Keefe made a few changes and tried to replace Simmond’s net presence with Nylander, but it just wasn’t the right fit and didn’t work out.
Tweet of the Night:
Love thy goalie.
What’s Next?
The long awaited home and home series between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens is near. With the Leafs ranked at #1 in the North Division and the Canadiens just behind, the games should be filled with your favourite rivalry, some good goaltending, and fast hockey. Catch the Leafs as they play the Canadiens in Montreal on Wednesday at 7:30pm EST on Sportsnet.