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Three Takeaways from Maple Leafs’ 7-3 Win Over the Capitals

The Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Washington Capitals last night 7-3. What were three takeaways from the game? Which players scored two goals?

It was as if the Toronto Maple Leafs were a completely different team than the one who lost to the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night. Last night the entire team showed up, and played with pace and energy from the very beginning of the game. The result was that they put a beating on a Washington Capitals team that was led by the great Alex Ovechkin and came into the game on a four-game winning streak.

In this edition of Maple Leafs’ takeaways, I’ll look at three takeaways from the game.

Related: Matt Knies Informs the Maple Leafs He’s Going Back to School

Takeaway One: The Bad News and the Good News About Matthews and Marner

It was both bad news and good news that Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner didn’t score in a seven-goal game. The bad news for the Maple Leafs? Matthews and Marner didn’t carry the scoring. The good news for the Maple Leafs? Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner didn’t carry the scoring. 

The bad news includes that all Maple Leafs’ fans are hoping that Matthews can hit the 60-goal mark, but he’s on a “deep” scoring slump for him – he hasn’t scored in two games. However Matthews did add two assists to put him over the 100-point mark. And, Marner started a new point streak with an assist. 

Auston Matthews Mitch Marner Maple Leafs
Auston Matthews Mitch Marner Maple Leafs

But the fact that the goal-scoring was so spread out. In the end, three Maple Leafs’ players – Ilya Mikheyev, William Nylander, and Michael Bunting – had two-goal games. It even got to the point during the final period that Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe put the three of them together as a power-play unit to see if one of them could score his hat-trick goal. 

In short, the team’s depth showed up. That’s a very good sign for the coming playoffs.

Takeaway Two: Michael Bunting Was Absolutely Joyful to Score

In last night’s game, Michael Bunting finally scored a couple of goals after enduring a 17-game goal-scoring drought. After that first goal, you could see his face simply light up with joy (and probably relief) to finally have scored. 

Bunting had two great chances and scored on both of them. He was in the right place at the right time and converted a beautiful tip-in from Pierre Engvall’s great pass later in the game. Bunting’s first goal came on Matthews’ 100th point of the season. His second goal came on a two-on-one break with Engvall later in the second period.

MIchael Bunting Toronto Maple Leafs

Bunting now has scored four points in his last four games. And, the rookie is one point away from registering 60 points on the season. His 22 goals and 37 assists give him 59 points in 74 games in his rookie season. 

When the season started, no one would have suspected he would be able to (a) score like that and (b) have such great chemistry with the two mega-stars on the team’s first line. He’s been a revelation.

Takeaway Three: John Tavares Is Closing In on a Point-a-Game Season

John Tavares registered three assists during last night’s game. The middle assist was the 500th of his career. He also finished with a plus-4 rating on the night and was a beast in the face-off circle, where he won 13 of 19 face-offs on the night.

Tavares now has scored 26 goals and 46 assists (for 72 points) in 73 games. In his last five games, he’s totalled seven points. The move of putting Tavares and William Nylander on different lines seems like a wise move because now both players are on a roll. 

Tonight’s goals for Nylander included his 30th of the season. They also pushed him to a new career-high with 71 points. That’s 10 more points than he’s ever scored in any other season. 

The Biggest Takeaway from the Game

But the biggest takeaway of the game is that the Maple Leafs’ offense is very strong. The scoring can be balanced; and, there’s less likelihood of any team during the postseason being totally able to shut down any of the lines now that three lines are pushing the puck into the opponent’s zone shift after shift.

Related: Maple Leafs Quick Hits: Matthews vs. Ovechkin & Upcoming Playoffs

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