The Toronto Maple Leafs finished their five-game homestand with a complete 5-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.
For the first time in nine home games, the Maple Leafs gave up fewer than four goals. They did it against the highest-scoring team in the league. The win gave them a 3-2 record in their homestand and a 5-4 record overall at home.
The Maple Leafs won two games in a row at home for the first time since their opening two games of the season.
The Fourth Line
Bobby McMann got the call-up and replaced Ryan Reaves in the lineup. The move paid immediate dividends. The fourth line scored two goals and did not have a goal scored against in the game. For the first game this season, the fourth line was a positive.
Noah Gregor scored the game-winning goal in the second period and David Kampf scored the 5-2 insurance goal midway through the third period. McMann assisted on both goals.
The Third Line
The third line of Max Domi centring Nick Robertson and Calle Jarnkrok scored their fourth goal in the four games since they were united. This time it was Robertson from Domi. Jarnkrok played a role in the goal as he and Domi won a battle behind the Vancouver net to get the puck out front to Robertson. However, the official scorer ruled that Jarnkrok did not make contact with the puck on the play.
Domi added an assist on the Matthews Knies goal that tied the game at one. Knies scored the goal just as time expired on a Tyler Myers crosschecking penalty. While Domi still has not scored a goal he has nine assists in 15 games and five assists in his last four games.
Tyler Bertuzzi had two assists in the game, one on the Knies’ goal in the first period and another on William Nylander’s goal that tied the game at two early in the second period.
Nylander kept his point streak from the start of the season going with a goal in the second period. He now has 22 points in 15 games, including 10 goals and 12 assists. His goal in this game moved Nylander into a tie for third in the NHL scoring.
This game had to be the most complete this season for Ilya Samsonov. He gave up two goals, both of them on the Canucks’ power play, on 33 shots. That’s two quality starts for Samsonov sandwiched around a terrible performance in which he was pulled after giving up four goals on twelve shots.
Ryan Reaves Factor
The Maple Leafs have been criticized in the past for not standing up for each other and allowing opposing players to take physical liberties with their teammates. Much was made of Brad Marchand’s can-opener move that put Timothy Liljegren on LTIR and the lack of response from any other Maple Leafs player. Ryan Reaves was brought in specifically for that reason, but he failed to act in the Marchand/Liljegren incident.
I’m not sure if it is a coincidence or not. Still, it is interesting that in the first game in which Reaves was a healthy scratch the 40-year-old Mark Giordano took on Dakota Joshua after Joshua laid out Kampf, and then Domi took on Ian Cole after Cole levelled Robertson.
This game did not start great for the Maple Leafs. They were outshot 12-4 in the first period and outscored 2-1. Both Vancouver goals were scored on the power play. The Maple Leafs penalty kill has given up 14 goals on 50 chances power-play chances again and now ranks 29th in the league.
The First Line
After scoring four goals in the 6-5 comeback win over the Tampa Bay Lightning when Knies was moved to the first line alongside Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, the line has been held scoreless in its last three games. Luckily for the Maple Leafs, the rest of the team has taken up the scoring slack. The line is still getting their chances and winning their minutes according to their analytics.
While Giordano and Domi standing up for their teammates is a good thing, there are bad consequences to it. Both players were given instigator penalties and had to sit out 17 minutes of the game (2 for instigating, 5 for fighting, and 10 minutes for misconduct). Vancouver scored on both of the penalties. The two infractions also played a big part in the lopsided shots in the period. Seven of the Canucks 12 shots in the first were on the power play.
I had to struggle to find something for this section (which is a good thing). The only thing even remotely ugly may have been the hits on Kampf and Robertson. To me, they were good clean hits and both players got right back to their feet following the hits.
With his injury history, the Robertson hit could have been scary. The hit was a bit high, but that more likely has to do with the size difference of the players. Cole is four inches taller and almost 50 pounds heavier than Robertson. The fact that Robertson had no visual side effects and came back to score a goal later in the game is a good thing.
There are no Maple Leafs hockey games for almost a week as the team travels to Stockholm Sweden for two games as part of the NHL’s Global Series. The Maple Leafs will take on the Detroit Red Wings in a game with a 2:00 pm EST starting time on Friday. They then take on the Minnesota Wild at 8:00 am Sunday.
Following those two games the Maple Leafs have four days to return to North America before going on the road for back-to-back games in Chicago and Pittsburgh.