By Stan Smith

The “New” Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Montreal Canadiens 5-1 on Saturday night to solidify their hold on second place in the Atlantic Division. Later in the night, the Tampa Bay Lightning lost 5-4 in regulation to the Las Vegas Golden Knights. Both the Maple Leafs’ win and the Lightning’s loss allowed the Maple Leafs to increase their lead over the Lightning to three points with one extra game played. 

The Good

As one might expect in a 5-1 win, many good things happened for the Maple Leafs in this game.

Ice Time

The ice time in this game was exactly what you would like to see when a team is playing their first back-to-back game.  

The time-on-ice spread for the forwards was exactly six minutes with Mitch Marner leading the way at 18:03 and Zach Aston-Reese with the least at 12:03. On defence, Morgan Rielly was the only Maple Leafs’ player over 20 minutes, at 21:58. Justin Holl played the least, at 17:43, a spread of 4:14.

The power play had a lot to do with that spread in ice times. At five-on-five, the difference in ice time for forwards was just 1:46, while the difference on defence was 2:15. 

This bodes well for the second game when the Maple Leafs travel to Chicago for an early 6:00 EST game tonight.

Engvall, Jarnkrok, and Kampf

I wrote, following the Chicago Blackhawks game, about how the newly united line of Calle Jarnkrok, Pierre Engvall, and David Kampf struggled against the Blackhawks. I wondered then if head coach Sheldon Keefe would keep that line together versus Montreal.

Pierre Engvall Upper Deck RC (Maple Leafs(

Well, Keefe did keep them together and they performed great in this game. Engvall was strong on the puck all night. He scored the game-winning goal in the latter half of the second period with a great solo effort.  


Engvall created chaos behind the Canadiens’ net with a strong forecheck, then he picked off an errant pass from Johnathon Kovacevik in the corner, walked out in front of the net, and fired a shot that took a few seconds to squeak through Jake Allen’s five-hole before trickling into the net. It was Engvall’s 12th goal of the season and puts him three shy of his personal best of 15 goals scored last season. 

Engvall would add an assist on Kampf’s five-one goal to give him two points on the night. He had four shots on the net in the game and finished with a plus-2 rating.

Related: Four Takeaways from Maple Leafs’ 5-1 Win Over Canadiens


Jarnkrok assisted on Michael Bunting’s first goal of the game and played a key role in Kampf’s goal despite not officially recording an assist on the play. Jarnkrok provided some chaos in front of the Montreal net and a screen on Allen. That allowed Kampf to score on the rebound of Engvall’s shot.  Jarnkrok finished the game with a team-best plus-3 rating. 


Kampf’s goal was his fifth of the season and first in 28 games. He also led the Maple Leafs in hits in this game with seven.

Despite starting over 75% of their shifts in their own zone Kampf, Engvall, and Janrkrok were not on the ice for a single five-on-five High-Danger Scoring Chance in the game. At five-on-five they were on the ice for 73% of the Scoring Chances, and 82% of the Expected Goals. 

Micheal Bunting

Michael Bunting scored twice in this game. His first goal tied the game at one and his second goal put the Maple Leafs up 3-1. Bunting now has 18 goals on the season and is on pace to score 26 goals, three more than he scored last season. 

Rasmus Sandin

Rasmus Sandin has increased his offensive output for the season by 25% in his last two games. In those two games, he scored a goal and added three assists to increase his season’s total from 16 to 20 points. 

Rasmus Sandin, Maple Leafs

Sandin assisted on the Bunting goal that opened the scoring for the Maple Leafs and then again on the Kampf goal.  

William Nylander

Nylander scored his team-high 31st goal of the season. The goal also gives him 65 points in 56 games which ties him for the team lead in points with Mitch Marner. 

Related: With Ryan O’Reilly, Maple Leafs Bring In Postseason Success

Auston Matthews

Matthews continues to develop his game. He did not score in this contest but he added to his assist total with two apples in this game. Both assists came on great feeds, one to Bunting, the other to Nylander, to give each of them nothing but net to shoot at.  

The playmaking part of the game appears to be something that Matthews is consciously working on. For the first time in his career, he has more assists (31) than he does goals (26).

Joseph Woll

Joseph Woll had a strong bounceback game following the 4-3 loss to Columbus in his last start. He stopped 29 of the 30 shots he faced, giving him a 0.967 save percentage in the game. In the six games Woll has played over the past two seasons, he has a 4-2 record with one shutout, a goals-against average of 2.69, and a save percentage of 0.917. 

Timothy Liljegren

I feel the need to mention Timothy Liljegren. He did not figure into the scoring in this game but he was on the ice for three goals-for and zero goals against at five-on-five. He was also on the ice for over 70% of the Shots, Scoring Chances, High-Danger Scoring Chances, and Expected Goals in the game. That is all after being promoted to a top-four role. 

The Bad

Despite coming out of the gate strong, with the new line of John Tavares, Mitch Marner, and Ryan O’Reilly buzzing on their first shift, the first period was a closer played period than it should have been. The Maple Leafs did have the edge in play but failed to finish, and the period ended with the score tied at zeros. 

Speaking of the Tavares, Marner, and O’Reilly line, they were the Maple Leafs’ worse line statistically. Marner and Tavares were the only two forwards that ended the game in the negative in plus/minus, each going minus one. O’Reilly escaped that same fate when he assisted on Bunting’s goal while playing on the second power-play unit just after the expiry of the David Savard slashing penalty in the second period. 

As a line, Tavares, Marner, and O’Reilly were on the ice at five-on-five for only 30% of the Expected Goals, and 35% of the High Danger Scoring Chances in the game.  

I realize that O’Reilly was thrown into this situation less than 24 hours after the deal was made, a timeline that would have included packing, a last-minute flight from St. Louis to Toronto, and then playing a game on a line with absolutely no practice. I am not the least bit worried if Sheldon Keefe keeps this line intact.  I am sure once they get familiar with each other, it will be a solid combination. 

The Ugly

I have to admit to a few minutes of panic and the old “Here we go again” feeling when the Canadiens opened the scoring 46 seconds into the second period. It was a perfect deflection by Josh Anderson and a goal that Joseph Woll had no chance on. That panic was short-lived, however, as the Maple Leafs broke through shortly thereafter and took control of the game. 

What’s Next?

The Maple Leafs have a short turnaround today as they fly to Chicago to take on the Blackhawks. The game has a 6:00 pm EST start.

Keefe stated following last night’s game that both Ilya Samsonov and Erik Kallgren would travel with the team and a decision would be made today as to who would start the game. He did add that Samsonov was feeling much better and was recovering from whatever illness had sidelined him. 

Joseph Woll, Maple Leafs

When Keefe was asked about keeping O’Reilly alongside Tavares and Marner, he stated: “I know it is something I would’ve tried at some point for sure. We are going to give it some runway.”

It will be interesting to see if Keefe swaps out Justin Holl for Conor Timmins. Holl played a much better game against the Canadiens than he did versus the Blue Jackets; but, Timmins played a great game on Wednesday against the Blackhawks. 

Unless the Maple Leafs make a deal to acquire another defenseman, if they stay healthy, I think that five of the top six defensive roster spots are pencilled in with Morgan Rielly, TJ Brodie, Mark Giordano, Liljegren, and Sandin. The sixth spot seems to be a battle between Holl and Timmins. I can see Keefe alternating between the two players for the foreseeable future to keep both players fresh. 

The Maple Leafs then fly to Buffalo to take on the Sabres on Tuesday and return to Toronto for a home game against the Minnesota Wild. They then head out on a West coast road trip that takes them to Seattle, Edmonton, Calgary, and Vancouver, with a stop in New Jersey on the way back East. 


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