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Three Takeaways from Maple Leafs’ 4-3 Win Over Devils

Last night, the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the New Jersey Devils 4-3. What were the three key takeaways from the game?

The Toronto Maple Leafs finished their five-game road trip the right way. They posted a 4-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.

Auston Matthews scored a power-play goal late in the game that turned out to be the game-winner. The win was Toronto’s 20th comeback win of the season. Interestingly, that number puts them just behind only one other club on the season – the Devils. They are the league leader with one more than the Maple Leafs.

Mitch Marner made a gaff that cost his team a goal, but he made up for it by scoring a short-handed goal himself. He also added an assist. Calle Jarnkrok and Michael Bunting added goals for the Maple Leafs.

But the player of the game for me was goalie Ilya Samsonov. He typically struggles on the road. However, last night he held the door shut after an overwhelming onslaught of first-period Devil’s chances. That allowed his team to take a breather and come back hard in the second period.

Without Samsonov’s brilliant effort, the game would have been over early.

Takeaway One: Ilya Samsonov Saves the Game Even Before a Goal Is Scored

As noted, Ilya Samsonov had an impressive start against the Devils last night. He faced 15 shots on his net without so much as blink. As a result, when the first intermission came, neither team scored. The result is exactly Samsonov’s “fault.” He was brilliant in the net.

Interestingly, the 26-year-old Russian goalie came close to not playing. In warmups, he had taken a shot off the top of the knee. However, he played on. Perhaps the close shave woke him up, but he showed no signs of an injury.

Ilya Samsonov Maple Leafs 2
Ilya Samsonov Maple Leafs 2

Although his save percentage in the game wasn’t high (he made a total of 30 saves and let in three goals), he still saved the game for the Maple Leafs. Funny how momentum changes. The Maple Leafs were the better team in the second period and, eventually, won the game.

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: O’Reilly, Meier, Keefe & Bunting

Takeaway Two: Marner and Matthews Lead the Team to the Win

Auston Matthews had not scored in three previous games, but his 29th goal of the season was a power-play marker. It was classic Matthews – even the celebration. The goal came just a minute after Timo Meier was given a penalty for high-sticking.

Meier was also the victim of a Mitch Marner short-handed takeaway that put him in alone on a breakaway. Marner faked backhand and slid a forehander between the goalie and the right post.

Throughout the game, Matthews and Marner were both involved in the middle of the action. They worked hard and were well rewarded. Both players stood out and dictated the play. Last night they proved to be a formidable twosome.

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

Alex Kerfoot played well on the first line but just seems snakebit around the net. His play is there, but not his scoring. Maybe he’s the Maple Leafs’ player who will be a surprise in the playoffs?

Related: Maple Leafs’ Quick Hits: O’Reilly vs. Foligno, Is Tampa Bay Toast?

Takeaway Three: Sam Lafferty Shows Why the Maple Leafs Picked Him Up

With John Tavares out, Malple Leafs’ fans got a chance to see Sam Lafferty in action. He had a great game at the second-line center position. As a result of his hard skating, he really pushed the puck through the neutral zone. He also recorded his first Maple Leafs’ point in the second period.

That goal by Calle Jarnkrok was crucial. He utilized his speed to put pressure on the Devils, which allowed his line to attack. After Lafferty started the play, William Nylander made a gorgeous pass to a wide-open Jarnkrok.

In addition, the Lafferty line helped shut down the Jack Hughes line. If Lafferty keeps performing like this, he’ll be a regular contributor. It’s easy to see why the team was eager to bring him onto the team.

Related: IF RYAN O’REILLY IS HURT, WHAT NOW FOR THE MAPLE LEAFS?

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