Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Murray, Acciari, McCabe & Muzzin

After an emotional come-from-behind win over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night, the Toronto Maple Leafs failed to follow that up with a consistent effort against the Buffalo Sabres. 

The Good

It’s funny. Lately, it seems the first period is either feast or famine for the Maple Leafs. They either dominate or get dominated. Against the Oilers, they got overwhelmed in the first. This time out it was the Maple Leafs that completely controlled play in the first. 

The Maple Leafs outshot the Sabres 12-3 in the period. According to, Toronto had 24 Shot Attempts to Buffalo’s eight. They also had 67% of the Expected Goals in the period. Unfortunately for the team, they were not rewarded with a goal in the opening twenty minutes.

Auston Matthews RC

Another pattern the Maple Leafs have had is following a good period with a bad one. It appeared they were going to break that pattern in this game as they scored on their first two shots in the second period. (More about that later.)


Auston Matthews

Auston Matthews had his fourth three-point game of the season. He scored the opening goal of the game. He then started a play in his own end that resulted in Calle Janrkrok’s 2-0 goal. Finally, he had the only assist on William Nylander’s goal with the goalie pulled to pull the Maple Leafs to within one goal with 1:02 left to play in the game. 

Mitch Marner

Mitch Marner keeps piling up the assists. He added two primary assists in this game to bring his season’s total to 61. They displayed a graphic during the game that showed that Marner has 103 primary assists in the league over the last two-plus seasons, which is third in the NHL over that time. 

Mitch Marner of the Toronto Maple Leafs

Marner is on pace to become the third Maple Leafs’ player in the history of the franchise to get over 70 assists in one season. Doug Gilmour has the record at 95 in the 1992-93 season. Gilmour followed that up with 84 assists in 1993-94. Darryl Sittler had 72 assists in the 1977-78 season.

Marner presently holds down fourth, sixth, and seventh places for most assists in one season. He’s played his last ten games at a two-point-a-game rate, with five goals and 15 assists. He’s now on pace to score a career-high 105 points this season. 

Related: Three Takeaways from Maple Leafs’ 4-3 Loss to the Sabres

William Nylander

It seems that William Nylander and Marner are taking turns this season scoring highlight goals. Marner scored what might have been the goal of the year in the last game. This game it was Nylander’s turn. 

With the Maple Leafs down two and the goalie pulled, Nylander scored a beauty. He outmuscled his way around Rasmus Dahlin, holding him off with one hand while handling the puck one-handed with the other. Then he used John Tavares as a decoy and fooled Sabres’ goalie Craig Anderson by roofing the puck from in tight. If you watch the replay, you can see Anderson start to move to his right away from the post, just as Nylander takes the shot. 

The Bad

Unfortunately, the Nylander goal was too little too late and the Maple Leaf’s comeback attempt fell short. 

The Second Period

As we wrote under the “Good,” it appeared the Maple Leafs were going to continue their first-period dominance in this game into the second period as they scored on their first two shots in the middle stanza.

It wasn’t to be though. After the Maple Leafs went up 2-0, it was like they figured “We got this” and they literally stopped skating. They managed only a single shot from that point on in the period. They ended up being outshot 17-3 in the period. 

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Murray, Acciari, McCabe & Muzzin

The Ugly

The Sabres scored three goals on seven shots in the third period. Unlike the Oilers game where Matt Murray gave up three goals on Edmonton’s first nine shots and looked shaky doing it, none of the three goals Buffalo scored was Murray’s fault. They were all from Sabres’ players being left alone right in front of the Toronto net. This was more about the Maple Leafs breaking down in front of Murray. 

What’s Next?

The Maple Leafs have no time to rest as they have to get ready to take on the visiting Stanley Cup Champion Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night. Toronto defeated the Avalanche in their only other meeting this season 6-2 on New Year’s Eve in Colorado.  Michael Bunting had two goals in that game.  


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