The game started slowly and shakily for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Before many fans were even seated, the Winnipeg Jets had scored two goals to take a first-period lead. Maple Leafs’ goalie Erik Kallgren was shakey, but there was lots of time left. Could he shut the door and give his team a chance to get back into the game?
But then the Maple Leafs’ offense (and defense — the team scored a short-handed goal) kicked in; and, not only did the team catch up to the Jets but they beat them by four goals. Kallgren was solid enough and shut the door for the team’s third win in a row. The win improved the team’s record to 43-19-5 on the season.
In this edition of Maple Leafs’ takeaways, I’ll look at the events of the game and pull three key happenings from the game.
Takeaway One: Auston Matthews Is First NHL Player this Season to 50 Goals
Perhaps the key takeaway in the game, other than the victory, is that Auston Matthews scored a goal and registered an assist. But this wasn’t just any goal, it was his 50th of the season. It was the first time in his career that he’s scored 50 goals. He was close a couple of times, but seasons that were shortened by COVID-19 cut his chances by games lost.
Matthews had a few chances during the game, but it didn’t happen. Then, with the game winding down and the Jets needing a couple of goals to tie, they pulled their goalie. Matthews got the puck in his own zone and put it into an open Jets’ net. That goal put him again ahead of the Edmonton Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl for the NHL’s scoring lead.
The 24-year-old Matthews is having a great season. He already has 50 goals and 37 assists (for 87 points) in 62 games on the season. He just keeps scoring. When will he slow down? Can he reach 60?
Takeaway Two: Ilya Mikheyev: Is a Monster on th Penalty Kill
It was just a season ago that Maple Leafs’ fans were calling for Ilya Mikheyev to be moved in a trade. Everyone recognized his speed and his great penalty-killing ability, but he just couldn’t seem to score. This season is different. Although it started slowly with Mikheyev being off on an injury, he’s come roaring back to score 15 goals on the season.
He’s having a great season, especially on the penalty-kill unit. In last night’s game, he collected three points in a single game for the first time in his NHL career. He scored a goal and added two assists in a 7-3 win over the Jets.
One of Mikheyev’s goals was a shorthanded one scored on a breakaway during the second period. Mikheyev has scored five goals and added two assists during his past eight games. Incredibly, two of his five goals have been short-handed goals.
Takeaway Three: Erik Kallgren Hung in There After a Shakey Start
Erik Kallgren stopped 20 of the 23 shots he faced during last night’s win. Kallgren looked shaky to start the game and allowed two goals on the first eight shots he faced. Although the Maple Leafs came back to tie the game 2-2, things might have gotten scary after the Jets went up by a goal.
But then the ice tilted and the Maple Leafs simply began to dominate the game. In the end, the team scored five straight goals to take the bite out of the Jets’ game.
Kallgren saved the shots he needed to. He now has registered a 4-2-1 record with a goals-against-average of 2.71 and a save percentage of .906. Expect him to get more work in the future while Jack Campbell prepares for game action. The word on Petr Mrazek is that he’ll likely miss the rest of the regular season with his groin injury.
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