The Toronto Maple Leafs learned that they can win without their mega-star Auston Matthews as other players stepped up for the team. The result was a tight 4-2 victory over the New York Islanders in the Maple Leafs’ second game of a back-to-back. The loss eliminated the Islanders from the postseason.
In this edition of Maple Leafs’ takeaways, I’ll look at how the players stepped up to carry the team to the win. I’ll also share some of the franchise records this team has now reached.
Takeaway One: The Maple Leafs Have More than One Star
Matthews sat out with an undisclosed injury that was the result of game action in Ottawa the night before. The word is that the injury is minor. On the season, the Arizona-native has 58 goals this season, which is four more than the Edmonton Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl.
With Matthews out of the lineup, a number of Maple Leafs’ players jumped up to help the team win the game. In the process, the team set a number of franchise records. The Maple Leafs set franchise records for victories with 50 and points with 106 in a season. The team is beginning to pull away from the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Boston Bruins to secure second place in the Atlantic Division.
Jack Campbell looked good in the net and made 27 saves on 29 shots. He was like his best self as he held off the Islanders as they pushed hard for the tying goal. William Nylander, Mitch Marner, Pierre Engvall, and David Kampf all scored. Kampf’s empty-netter with under 10 seconds left in the game brought a sigh of relief.
Marner scored his 34th goal of the season. It was his 26th goal in his last 40 games. Nylander now has 31 goals on the season. Engvall scored his 14th.
Takeaway Two: Maple Leafs’ Mitch Marner Is on Fire
Mitch Marner matched his career-best season for points with his goal in the win over the Islanders. He covered for his first-line partner nicely. It was Marner’s third goal in his last two games and leaves him with six goals and nine assists (for 15 points) in nine games.
As noted, Marner set or matched career highs. He now has 34 goals (a career-high) and 60 assists (for 94 points) on the season. His next point will beat his season-high total from 2018-19. And, he has six games left in the season to do it. What are the odds he can get a point-a-game over the remaining games to top the 100-point mark?
Takeaway Three: William Nylander Is Almost at a Point-a-Game Pace
William Nylander had a power-play goal and added an assist for a pair of points. His goal near the middle of the second period was the game-winner. His assist came on Kampf’s goal late in the third period.
Nylander, for all his little issues with the coaching staff, is playing well and is just a point away from a point-a-game pace for the season. His 31 goals match his career-high and he also has 43 assists (to total 74 points) in 75 games. Nylander also has 29 power-play points.
His “demotion” to the third line has improved the team’s overall attack. He still gets plenty of ice time because of his use on the power-play units.
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