The Toronto Maple Leafs went into the mid-season and All-Star Break with a solid 4-2 victory in Winnipeg over the Jets.

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The Good

After an embarrassing game in Toronto where the Maple Leafs were soundly outplayed by the Jets but came away with a 1-0 win off the back of Ilya Samsonov, the Maple Leafs were the better team at both five-on-five and on specialty teams in this game.

Toronto went two for three on the power play and killed all four shorthanded situations they faced. At five-on-five, the Maple Leafs out-chanced the Jets 20-17 and had eleven High-Danger Scoring Chances to seven for the Jets according to

Ryan Reaves

After being off since December 14th, Ryan Reaves played one of his better games of the season. He scored the 1-1 tying goal with 49 seconds left in the first period. First, he helped to create a turnover in the Winnipeg zone, then he went to the net, created a screen on Connor Hellebuyck, and tipped a Noah Gregor shot past Hellebuyck. Reaves had three hits in 9:33 of ice time. He had lots of jump and helped the fourth line have a pretty decent night. That line was on the ice for one High-Danger Scoring Chance For and one High-Danger Scoring Chance Against. That’s okay for a fourth line.

Ryan Reaves, now with the Maple Leafs

I remember Reaves’ first game of the season. He played a similar type of game and I thought at the time if he kept playing at that level he would be a good addition to the team. Unfortunately, he did not sustain that level of play. We will have to see how he does in his next few games. Hopefully, this is not a one-off. 

John Tavares

John Tavares broke a ten-game goalless, and a nine-game pointless slump with a tip of a Morgan Rielly shot on the power play at the 1:54 mark of the second period to put Toronto up 2-1. The usually stoic Tavares’ celebration after scoring the goal showed the relief he felt getting that monkey off his back. 

Auston Matthews

Auston Matthews wired a one-timer past Hellebuyck on a five-on-three power play late in the third period. That put the Maple Leafs up 3-1. It was Matthews’ 40th goal of the season and the 600th point of his career. Matthews takes the record for the fastest Maple Leafs player to 600 points from Mitch Marner. He did it in 527 games, 21 games faster than Marner. After Darryl Sittler held that record for 45 years before Marner broke it, Marner had the record for exactly two weeks.  

Matthews’ 40th goal this season came 27 games sooner than it did last season. Matthews scored his 40th goal in his 73rd game in the 2022-23 season. In the 2021-22 season when Matthews scored 60 goals, he notched his 40th goal in his 53rd game. He is six games ahead of that pace this season. 

This is the sixth season out of the eight seasons Matthews has played in his career in which he has scored 40 goals. That extends a record Matthews already had. The two seasons he failed to do so, it was due to injuries. He scored 34 goals in 62 games in 2017-18 and 37 goals in 68 games in 2018-19. Matthews has scored more goals than any other NHL player since he first stepped on the ice on October 12th, 2016. 

He has 339 goals in 527 games played, 30 more goals than David Pastrnak’s 309 in 544 games. Matthews has 26 goals in his past 25 games and is still on pace to score 70 goals this season. 

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Morgan Rielly

Morgan Rielly assisted on both the Tavares goal and the Matthews goal. That gave him 24 points in his last 25 games and 40 points this season. Rielly sits seventh in scoring for NHL defensemen and is fourth in All-Time scoring for a Maple Leafs defenseman with career 454 points. Rielly needs just four more points to catch Toronto legend Tim Horton for third place all-time. 

Ilya Samsonov

While Ilya Samsonov was not nearly as busy as he was in his last game, he came up with his third solid performance and his third win in a row this past week. In those three games, Samsonov has allowed just three goals on 75 shots. That is a 0.960 Save Percentage. His Goals-Against-Average in those three games is 0.98 GAA. It is amazing when you think that, after what Samsonov has been through this season, in 19 appearances he has only lost three games in regulation. 

The Bad

I did not see much that I would consider bad in this game. The Jets did score on their first and last shots of the game. There was a bad bounce off of Jake McCabe’s skate that played a direct result in the Jets’ second goal which was scored with just 12 seconds left in the game. The first goal came from a deflection of the puck off of TJ Brodie’s skate that went right to the goal scorer Dylan Samberg on Winnipeg’s first shot of the game. That was about it.

I might be nitpicking here. However, despite scoring his 40th goal of the season and 600th point of his career, Matthews didn’t have the greatest of games. He seemed to be fighting the puck all night. He turned the puck over on three separate occasions. The underlying stats backed up my observation. At five-on-five, he has had 26% of the Expected Goals, 23% of the Scoring Chances, and 37.5% of the High-Danger Scoring Chances.  

The Ugly

The Ugly is a different story. There was something ugly for fans of both teams, both of them involving calls by the referee.

For the Maple Leafs, it was having what looked like a goal by the Maple Leafs with 19 seconds left in the third period called off. During a scramble in front of the Winnipeg net, it appeared that Tyler Bertuzzi had scored a tap-in goal with just 19 seconds left on the clock. The referee waved the goal off immediately for goaltender interference, as William Nylander had made contact with Hellebuyck just before the goal was scored.  

After replays showed that Dylan DeMelo pushed Nylander into Hellebuyck, head coach Sheldon Keefe challenged the call. Despite the video review showing that DeMelo had pushed Nylander into Hellebuyck, the call stood and the Maple Leafs were given a two-minute delay of game penalty.  

One thing that was not discussed which surprised me was after the contact between Nylander and Hellebuyck was made Nylander backed off and Hellebuyck had time to reset. There was a full three seconds between the time Nylander cleared himself from Hellebuyck and Bertuzzi smacked the puck into the net. 

Tyler Bertuzzi, Maple Leafs

The referees would even out the bad calls at 15:09 of the third period. With the Maple Leafs already on the power play after an interference call on Nino Niederreiter, Dylan Samberg would slash at Tavares’ stick in front of the Jets net. However, he did not appear to break it. Tavares complained to the referee but there was no call.  Then Tavares put his weight on his stick on the ice and it broke. It was then the referee raised his hand to signal a penalty four seconds after the infraction happened. It was one of the strangest calls I have ever seen.  

On the 5 on 3, Matthews would score to put Toronto up 3-1. 

What’s Next?


Not for over a week anyway. It is time for some rest for the Maple Leafs. They have their bye week followed by the All-Star break. Their next game is on Monday, February 5th when they are at home to take on the New York Islanders.  

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