Michael Bunting scored a goal and added an assist. John Tavares added two assists. And Ilya Samsonov made 23 saves in Sunday’s game as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Washington Capitals 5-1. Morgan Rielly, William Nylander, Pierre Engvall, and Zach Aston-Reese also scored for the Maple Leafs.
The Maple Leafs scored four unanswered goals in the second period. Bunting started the scoring with his 15th of the season on a power play rebound (with assists from Tavares and Mitch Marner). Rielly scored his first of the season on a 22-foot shot (with assists from Bunting and Tavares). Nylander scored his 28th of the season on a rebound (with an assist from Calle Jarnkrok). Engvall scored his 10th of the year on a 31-foot shot (with assists from TJ Brodie and David Kampf).
With the win. the team moved to a record of 3-1-0 on its current five-game homestand.
It was also John Tavares’ 1,000th NHL game. The Maple Leafs’ organization honored him with a celebration before the game. A large contingent of family and friends attended to be part of the festivity.
Item One: Ilya Samsonov Has a Solid Game Against the Capitals
Ilya Samsonov made 23 saves in Sunday’s 5-1 win over the Capitals. Unlike his game in Washington in December, where he struggled and gave up a season-high five goals against his former team, yesterday Samsonov played well.
In the game, Samsonov only allowed a single goal, on a power-play goal to Nicklas Backstrom. That goal came in the first period. He then shut out the Capitals over the final two periods. Samsonov has started the Maple Leafs’ last seven games, going 5-1-1 with a .925 save percentage. He has a record of 17-5-2 with a .917 save percentage and a 2.31 goals-against-average this season.
Related: Three Takeaways from Maple Leafs’ 6-2 Loss to Senators
Item Two: William Nylander Scored His 28th Goal of the Season
William Nylander is currently on a 45-goal pace and is having a great season. He scored his 28th goal of the season (to go with his 31 assists) and is now up to 59 points in only 51 games. Even better, he’s at a plus-17 rating. Last season he scored 34 goals and added 46 assists (for 80 points) in 81 games. Although that’s just one short of a point-a-game pace for the season, he also had a minus-9 plus/minus. It’s a different season in 2022-23.
Nylander now is only six goals short of his last season’s goal total with 30 fewer games played. He’s also picking up a lot of the dirty goals at the net and also leading the team in expected goals and shot attempts when he’s on the ice. He’s become a dominant five-on-five play-driver game after game.
Nylander is becoming a team leader rather than simply secondary scoring. He’s changing the entire feel of the team. When Matthews is healthy, this team can ice two really productive lines.
Related: Maple Leafs’ Alex Kerfoot: Swiss Army Knife & Ultimate Trade Chip
Item Three: Morgan Rielly Finally Scores a Goal After 22 Assists
Morgan Rielly scored his first goal of the season, which proved to be the game-winner. Although Rielly is a defenseman known for his offensive abilities, he had been held scoreless in his first 35 games of the season. His second-period goal was both a personal boost for him and was also the team’s game-winner.
Rielly has been contributing to the team with 22 points, including 21 assists, on the season. But finally scoring a goal had to be a monkey off his back. After the goal, he looked skyward. Obviously, he was relieved.
Related: Maple Leafs’ Quick Hits: Murray, Samsonov, Brodie & Tavares
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