At the end of the game, the Toronto Maple Leafs got two points as they beat the Vegas Golden Knights in the shootout by a score of 4-3. William Nylander scored both the first goal of the game and the shootout winner to carry his team. With the point in Colorado against the Avalanche, the Maple Leafs now have three points out of possible four points on this road trip.
In their last two games on the road, the Maple Leafs were NOT outclassed by two of the top teams in the NHL. The one thing that Maple Leafs’ fans should feel good about is that their team can – and does – compete.
Tonight against the Arizona Coyotes, Petr Mrazek will start in goal. He doesn’t have a large body of work this season, so he needs to get up and running and into a rhythm. He’ll need to carry his share of the load as the Maple Leafs face the makeup games that will be played and that had been postponed as a result of COVID-19.
Takeaway One: Ondrej Kase Played Smart and Well
Ondrej Kase came back in this game after missing a couple of games as the result of an injury he suffered when he tweaked something in his upper body in a workout in the gym. He returned with a vengeance and never looked as if he missed a beat. Kase scored an assist, but he carried the play for much of the game.
Kase’s return pushed Ilya Mikheyev to the third line. When Mitch Marner comes back from being in COVID-19 protocol, it will probably move Mikheyev, Kase, and David Kampf together in the third line. That will be a great line for both the regular season and also for the playoffs. Kase is a really good player, and is smart with the puck. He’s a thinking player.
Kase thinks like teammate Alex Kerfoot and former Maple Leafs’ player Zach Hyman. The three are smart and have the ability to create on the ice both offensively and defensively.
Takeaway Two: Jack Campbell Once Again Plays Hero
Jack Campbell really saved his team during the second period. The Golden Knights were pushing, but they couldn’t score. His play calmed the team down, then Matthews scored a goal and the momentum shifted. Happy 30th birthday, Jack.
In Colorado he saved 45 saves, during the game last night Campbell saved 31 shots and all three shootout attempts. The truth is that, without Campbell’s heroics, his team would likely not have even made the overtime and shootout.
The Maple Leafs were both out-played and out-chanced by the Golden Knights. Campbell was there to deliver the key saves and give his team the win and the two points that went with it. On the season, Campbell’s record is now 18-5-3, with a goals-against average of 2.02, and a save percentage of .935.
Takeaway Three: William Nylander Is Becoming an Elite Player and Scorer
William Nylander scored the first goal of the game less than 90 seconds in, then he scored the final goal on the last shootout attempt. On his first goal, Nylander took a great pass as he was streaking toward the goal from Morgan Reilly and made a nice move around Vegas’ netminder Robin Lehner.
Nylander also scored the shootout game-clinching goal to give the Maple Leafs the full two points and the victory. The 25-year-old Swede is currently one of the hottest NHL players with nine goals and 11 assists (for 20 points) in his last 14 games. For the season, in his 34 games, Nylander now has scored 16 goals and added 20 assists (for 36 points) in 34 games.
What’s so impressive to me is Nylander’s confidence. On his first breakaway goal, Nylander fooled Lehner going one way; but, on his second (the shootout) goal he changed his entire way he approached the goalie. Obviously, both were breakaways of a sort, but he had Lehner guessing – and guessing wrong – during the shootout.
That’s great confidence.
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