The Toronto Maple Leafs’ 5-4 overtime win over the Ottawa Senators was a game of two parts. During the first period, although the Maple Leafs came out hard and controlled the offense, the Senators took advantage of a mistake and a nice tip to take a 2-0 lead.
During the second period, the Maple Leafs didn’t control the play nearly as well but outscored their opponent by a margin of 3-1 to tie the game going into the final period.
Both teams scored in the third to push the game into overtime. Then the ageless and skilled defenseman Mark Giordano scored to win the game. In this edition of Maple Leafs’ takeaways, I’ll look at some of the key performers of the game and comment on what makes their work so important to the team.
I have to offer a caveat at the beginning. I won’t mention Mitch Marner except for the introduction. Marner is having an amazing season, and last night scored two goals more goals to move his total on the season to 33. [You can see him celebrating one of them above.]
He now is up to those 33 goals, with 60 assists, for 93 points in 66 games. That’s an average of just over 1.4 points per game. Incredible.
Takeaway One: Mark Giordano is Kyle Dubas’ Home Run
Mark Giordano is everything the Maple Leafs had hoped for in a “rental” UFA for the postseason run. He’s done more than any other trade-deadline player the Maple Leafs have brought in during my tenure covering the team.
Last night, he added three points to his season’s total by scoring a goal and adding two assists in the 5-4 overtime win against the Senators. As I noted earlier, the Maple Leafs needed a big comeback to win and Giordano was there to help Kyle Clifford and Michael Bunting score during the second period.
Without those goals, the Maple Leafs would not have been able to come back from a 3-1 deficit. However, Giordano saved the best until literally the very last second by scoring the overtime winner with only about two minutes remaining in the overtime period.
Giordano now has eight goals and 23 assists (for 31 points) in the 56 games he’s played. The former Norris Trophy winner is playing lights out for the Maple Leafs. Although this is his first goal after seven games without scoring, he simply makes everyone around him better. Ask Timothy Liljegren, who’s been the version of his best self playing with the veteran defenseman.
Takeaway Two: It Wasn’t the Way He Wanted, But for Kallgren a Win Is a Win
It’s tough to be an NHL goalie. I’ve got to say that, although Erik Kallgren let in four goals, there was only one goal I thought he had a chance on. He stopped 25-of-29 shots in the 5-4 win last night. Sure he gave up three of the first four goals of the game, but they were not his fault. Only the fourth goal was one he might want back.
But it’s a team and Kallgren’s teammates pushed hard to tie the score at 3-3 thanks to some hard play and Marner’s two goals. During the final part of the third period and during the overtime Kallgren held a hard-playing Senators’ team scoreless. He even stopped a clear breakaway during overtime to allow Giordano to supply his heroics.
It was Kallgren’s second start in a row; and, again, he gave up four goals again. However, the rookie goalie from Sweden has put together a 6-3-1 record, a 3.02 goals-against-average, and a .895 save percentage.
Takeaway Three: Michael Bunting Now Tops the Rookie Scoring List
Michael Bunting now has scored three goals in two games. He also had a nice assist when he hit Marner’s feet as his first-line partner was crashing the goalie’s net. Bunting is a smart player who goes to the dirty parts of the ice and takes advantage of any chaos he’s created to either score or help score goals for his team.
Bunting now leads all NHL rookies in scoring with 23 goals and 38 assists (for 61 points). There’s little chance he’ll be in the Calder Trophy competition, but that doesn’t mean his teammates don’t appreciate him. He simply wants to win and will work hard at the tough jobs to make that happen.
For those who like to keep track, Zach Hyman – the player Bunting replaced – now has 24 goals and 26 assists (for 50 points) in 70 games played with the Edmonton Oilers. He also has a plus/minus rating of minus-9. By contrast, as noted Bunting has 23 goals and 38 assists (for 61 points) with a plus/minus rating of plus-29.
Need I say more about how well Bunting’s skills fit in with this dominant first line?
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