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Three Maple Leafs Takeaways from 4-3 Shootout Win Over the Ducks

The Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Anaheim Ducks in a shootout by the score of 4-3. What are the three takeaways from the game?

In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs’ takeaways, I’ll look at three takeaways from the 4-3 shootout victory over the Anaheim Ducks tonight. Winning this game shouldn’t have been so hard. Goalie Jack Campbell held a 3-1 lead, but the Ducks came quacking back to tie it 3-3 and send it into overtime.

All game long, and during the overtime, the Maple Leafs rained shots on John Gibson – who’s an NHL All-Star this season for a reason, but Gibson stopped shot after shot to keep his team in the game. A crazy first goal and a lucky tip on the third goal tied the score; and, in the end, shootout goals by Jason Spezza and Auston Matthews sealed the deal. Campbell stopped two of the three shootout shots he saw. 

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Takeaway One: Perhaps That’s Why We Might Not Want to Trade a Defenseman Quickly

Timothy Liljegren hit his head during a collision at mid-ice during the first period and left last night’s game against Ducks. He didn’t return (for what was called for precautionary reasons) and the Maple Leafs played a defenseman short for the last 50 minutes of the game. 

After the game, Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe reported that Liljegren was “trending in the right direction” after he left the game. I’m unsure what that diagnosis means, so I can’t really say anything about Liljegren’s injury was clarified. What I did hear was that Liljegren was under evaluation for a head injury, but that he’s day-to-day. That means he might actually play in the upcoming game on Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings.

Takeaway Two: Auston Matthews Has Another Multiple Point Game

No goals tonight for Auston Matthews, but he did register assists on two goals in Wednesday’s 4-3 shootout win over the Ducks. Matthews’ assists came on goals by two of his other Core Four partners – William Nylander and John Tavares. Matthews is on a nice run recently and on the season. Mitch Marner also scored his second power-play goal in a couple of games after going more than 101 games without one.

Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs

To date during the 2021-22 regular season, the Arizona native has scored 25 goals and added 18 assists (for 43 points) during the 36 games he’s played. Tonight was Matthews’ 14th multiple-point game of the season.

Takeaway Three: Jason Spezza Does Whatever He’s Asked and Whatever It Takes

Jason Spezza’s no longer the player he was in his prime, but he still remains added-value to his team. He was almost invisible during the game and played under seven minutes (6:56 to be exact); however, when the shootout came along, coach Keefe threw him out first and he delivered. The old Yoda still has some skills.

As I noted, until that shootout goal, I barely remember seeing Spezza on the ice. Perhaps that’s because I like everyone else was watching the new line combinations to see how they did.

The truth is we don’t know. The Maple Leafs only scored three power-play goals, but not a single goal in five-on-five hockey. That’s good, I guess. The Maple Leafs’ special teams have to be good, and they are.

Jason Spezza Maple Leafs Card
Jason Spezza Maple Leafs (Upper Deck Card)

After the game, coach Keefe noted that in his own time with the team, Spezza “has been as consistent of a shooter as we have had in the shootout. He missed earlier this year, but he is a reliable guy. … I like his ability to go first with the combination of his experience and poise.”

Keefe also noted his strategy of throwing Spezza out first. It was because, when the team comes out of a tough overtime, moving Matthews and Nylander to the team’s second and third shooters gives them “an extra breather coming out of it … with Spezza going first like that and setting the table for us, he did a tremendous job of finishing there.”

Worked tonight.

Related: Maple Leafs’ Fans Get Ready for Entirely New Forward Combinations



  1. Afp1961

    January 27, 2022 at 9:28 am

    Have written for a month of Sundays and last nights game just bore out my position even more.

    Leafs D is too soft. Saw Sandin and Dermott pushed off pucks and not be able to clear the crease multiple times. If they are anywhere near the leafs 6-7-8 Dmen come playoff time the leafs are in trouble.

    Need a Josh Manson type and perhaps a smaller depth trade for a guy like Luke Schenn Mark Pysyk type.

    • gfinale

      January 27, 2022 at 1:01 pm

      Agreed about D being too soft from top to bottom and especially 3rd pairing!

  2. Old Prof

    January 27, 2022 at 12:59 pm

    Honestly – I don’t think a huge contract d-man is needed – just a defensive one

    • gfinale

      January 27, 2022 at 1:03 pm


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