By Stan Smith
The Toronto Maple Leafs travelled to Pittsburgh and got their revenge on the Penguins for last week’s 4-2 loss in Toronto last week. This time, the Maple Leafs came out victors by a score of 5-2.
Matt Murray made a triumphant return to the Maple Leafs’ net after missing just over a month with an adductor injury. He stopped 35 of 37 shots including eight for eight while the Maple Leafs were a man short. Murray faced eight high-danger chances in the second period alone when both teams seemed to forget about playing any kind of defence. It was Murray’s first win as a Maple Leaf and his first win anywhere since February 7, 2022.
After scoring only two goals and six points in his first 16 games this season, Michael Bunting exploded for two goals and an assist. Both of the goals Bunting scored were from in tight, the same types of goals he scored last season.
John Tavares scored the 400th goal of his career in the first period. The hockey broadcast displayed a graphic showing that Tavares’ 400 goals are the third most scored by an NHL player since the beginning of the 2009 season. The only two players that have scored more are Alex Ovechkin, with 569, and Steven Stamkos with 465. Tavares has nine more goals than Sidney Crosby during that time. That is some pretty elite company.
Jordie Benn did his best Jake Muzzin imitation for the second game in a row. Benn scored his second point in as many games with the Maple Leafs, this time a primary assist on Tavares’ 400th goal. More importantly, Benn registered six hits and blocked five shots in the game, including making three saves in the crease just to give Murray a hand.
In the two games Benn has played for the Leafs at five on five he has been on the ice for four goals for and only one against. He has also been on the ice for 61% of the Shot Attempts, 61% of the Shots, and 64% of the Expected Goals.
Mitch Marner scored his fourth goal of the season and extended his point streak to ten games. Marner has fourteen points in those ten games. While he didn’t get an assist on Tavares’ 400th goal, Marner did play a role in it as he provided a screen on goaltender Casey DeSmith.
Exactly 43 seconds after the Maple Leafs went up 3-0 to start the second period, the Penguins scored to make it 3-1. The Penguins then scored again 1:16 later to close to within one goal. The Maple Leafs ended up giving up eight High-Danger Scoring Attempts in the second period. Lucky for them, Murray shut things down after the second Penguins’ goal.
For the second time in recent games, Rasmus Sandin completely whiffed on a puck. This time he had the unfortunate luck to have it end up on the stick of Sidney Crosby. About two seconds later it was in the back of the net.
The Maple Leafs return home to take on the hottest team in the league Thursday night. The New Jersey Devils have won 10 games in a row and 13 of their last 14. This Maple Leafs’ team has a habit of not only playing down to certain opponents this season but also playing up to the level of the best teams in the league. Hopefully, they can continue that trend against the Devils.
The Maple Leafs then take on the Buffalo Sabres. After starting the season 7-3 the Sabres have lost seven games in a row.