The Toronto Maple Leafs finally had a solid win over the Montreal Canadiens last night. Although they let in the first goal, they roared back with five straight to win going away. The win was the first for the Maple Leafs against the Canadiens this season. They had lost their first two games playing in Montreal.
For the Maple Leafs, Michael Bunting scored two goals. Pierre Engvall added a goal and an assist. William Nylander and David Kampf also each scored a goal. As far as helpers go, both Auston Matthews and Rasmus Sandin added two each.
In goal, Joseph Woll looked strong – especially during the second period. He made 29 saves and (to my eye) made it look easy.
Takeaway One: Both Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Acciari Fit in Well
I have to say I was especially excited to watch the game because of the two new players. Although they had to have been tired from traveling from St. Louis to Toronto, both Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Acciari fit in well with their new team. They head back to Chicago tonight with the team.
They performed exactly as expected. Both are experienced veteran NHL players and seemed to play hard and smart hockey. Maple Leafs head coach built his lines around them last night, playing both in their natural center positions. That probably made life on the ice a bit easier.
In short, the new players fit in right away and contributed to the team’s success. It will be fun to see how they integrate into the team in the upcoming games.
Related: WHO IS NOEL ACCIARI: THE MAPLE LEAFS’ OTHER GUY?
Takeaway Two: Michael Bunting Is on a Roll
Michael Bunting was exactly in the right place two times to take advantage of some great setups. He scored two goals – one on the power play (assisted by Matthews and Rasmus Sandin). His second goal was scored late in the second period (assisted by Calle Jarnkrok and O’Reilly). That assist was O’Reilly’s first point as a Maple Leafs player.
Bunting now has scored 18 goals and added 21 assists (for 39 points) in 56 games this season. Earlier in the season, it looked like he was not going to live up to his first season’s production. Last season, he scored 23 goals in 79 games. He might not hit his 63-point total of last season, but he’ll likely hit 25 goals this season.
Takeaway Three: Joseph Woll Was Solid in Goal
Joseph Woll had a solid game in goal for the Maple Leafs. He wasn’t tested too much but looked confident and steady when he was. He made 29 saves in the game, earning his fourth NHL win and (interestingly enough) his first win on home ice. His previous three wins had been on the road during the 2021-22 season.
After the game, Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe was asked about the Woll’s play.
He noted: “It is a storyline that will go under the radar perhaps (because it was the first game in a Maple Leafs’ uniform for both newcomers Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Acciari), but I thought he was really solid for us. We gave up, at times, some looks that we wish we hadn’t. There were some clean looks. He stood tall and made some strong saves.”
In summary, Keefe noted that Woll was very good tonight.”
Related: With Ryan O’Reilly, Maple Leafs Bring In Postseason Success
Takeaway Four: Auston Matthews Was Strong All Game Long
Auston Matthews had another strong game in his team’s 5-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens. He recorded two primary assists – both great passes directly leading to goals. Smart player, with great passes.
Last night Matthews had his second straight two-point game since his return from his knee injury. He’s now totaled 57 points in 49 games this season. That includes 26 goals. He might not be scoring goals in bunches, but he continues to show he’s the key player on the Maple Leafs team.
Interesting, although Matthews is drawing more penalties this season than last, last night he had to be demonstrative to get the call. During one second-period “engagement,” he was slashed hard by Habs’ player David Savard. It was not until Matthews shook his hand/arm in pain that the referee called a penalty.
Sadly, for some reason, Matthews simply isn’t drawing penalties commensurate with the action on the ice. From my vantage point, only Matthews’ reaction helped draw attention to the slashes he was receiving.
Related: Maple Leafs All-In This Season: Get O’Reilly & Acciari for Picks
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