In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs Takeaways, I’ll share my three takeaways from the team’s 6-4 come-from-behind win over the New Jersey Devils. It was the second game in a row that the team has come roaring back from a huge deficit to take the win. As Sportsnet announcer Ken Reid said after the game, “I love those hockey games that coaches hate.” Me, too.
This game was a bad one for both coaches, but another good one for the fans. However, it doesn’t seem as if this is a good way for a contending team to act – sometimes losing big leads and having to hold on, and then sometimes going behind by a number of goals and they having to fight their way back. I’m sure that the Maple Leafs are looking for some boring consistency.
Takeaway One: Jack Campbell Pulled After Surrendering Three Goals in Nine Shots
It doesn’t happen very that Jack Campbell is pulled out of a game, but that’s what happened when the Toronto Maple Leafs played the New Jersey Devils at home last night. After giving up three goals in nine shots, Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe pulled his beleaguered goalie, called a time out, and gave his troops a scolding.
In went backup goalie Petr Mrazek, who gave up only a single goal in 20 shots; and, yet again, the Maple Leafs showed enough resolve and enough confidence in their game to fight and come back to win the game by a score of 6-4. The truth is that Campbell wasn’t sharp; however, the skaters in front of him gave up easy and open shots. As a result, before half of the first period was over Campbell was on the bench.
Although Campbell’s save percentage and goals-against-average took a huge hit statistically, Campbell’s won/loss record remained unscarred because his team came back to win the game and take him off the hook for the loss.
The question is, with the quick turnaround on the back-to-back, which goalie will coach Keefe start tonight? Apparently, coach Keefe will make a final decision on who the starting goalie will be later this morning.
Takeaway Two: Petr Mrazek Makes a Solid Relief Appearance
As noted above, Mrazek allowed only one goal on 20 shots as he gave his team a chance to claw back into the game and win it on a shorthanded, game-winning goal by Ilya Mikheyev, who now has seven goals during the month of January.
The Maple Leafs for the second straight game went down a couple of goals, this time it was a 4-2 deficit going into the third period. And, yet again, the team managed to score four times in the third period to finish off the comeback win. That’s nine goals for the Blue and White in their last two third periods.
Give the 29-year-old Mrazek credit. He settled things down and stopped the bleeding until the Maple Leafs rallied in the third period. That’s Mrazek’s third straight win and he now owns a record of 5-2-0 on the season with a goals-against-average of 2.94 and a save percentage of .896.
Takeaway Three: Auston Matthews Ends His Four-Game Goal-Scoring Drought
Under no circumstances could you call Auston Matthews’ season less than amazing. However, when he began the game last night against the Devils, he was in a four-game goal-scoring drought. That ended in a big way when Matthews scored a hat trick to lead his team to the comeback win.
With the Maple Leafs down by two goals very early in the first period, Matthews scored two times before the period was over to bring his team within a goal. He also helped his linemate Mitch Marner score a goal in his sixth straight game to tie the game in the third period.
Finally, Matthews showed shooting-range accuracy when he put the puck into the empty net from about halfway into his own defensive zone. Perhaps that was his best shot of the evening.
The 24-year-old Matthews, who’s now in his sixth season suddenly jumped back into the Richard Trophy race with his 28th goal. He also has 21 assists for 49 points on the season. He also has 19 power-play points in 38 games for the season and is now averaging 1.29 points each game.
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