Connect with us

Toronto Maple Leafs

Three Takeaways from Maple Leafs 2-1 Win Over the Sabres

The Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Buffalo Sabres last night 2–1 in overtime. What were three key takeaways from the game?

While the Toronto Maple Leafs picked up an important win over the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night, the game lacked the kind of excitement and offensive momentum fans would expect from these two teams. The Maple Leafs had come into the game losing twice to the Sabres on the season. The Sabres had scored 15 goals in those two games. Last night was not similar. Instead, the game resembled a tightly contested match played in a confined space. Both teams struggled to generate scoring chances, resulting in a low-scoring tie at the end of regulation. Despite moments of intensity, the overall excitement level remained low until the overtime period. Then, things got interesting. The action finally intensified in the three-on-three format.

Related: What’s Concerning About the Maple Leafs Loss to the Bruins?

Takeaway One: Samsonov Made One Mistake in the Game

Despite displaying a strong performance overall, Ilya Samsonov did make one mistake. That came on the Sabres’ only goal of the game. Victor Olofsson‘s goal caught him off guard. While it was a well-placed wrist shot into the top corner over his glove, the shot was unscreened and took Samsonov by surprise. It was a save he could’ve made.

Ilya Samsonov of the Maple Leafs is facing possible demotion to AHL

That said, Samsonov bounced back with a crucial save in the dying seconds of the third period and several excellent stops in overtime. The game’s lack of flow had to have presented difficulties for his game in the crease. He faced long periods of inactivity followed by sudden bursts of action where he needed to make several saves.

Despite facing minimal shots in the first period, he remained sharp. He even withstood a flurry of shots towards the end of the first period. In the third period, where the Sabres managed only three shots, Samsonov still needed to stay alert to preserve the tie and force overtime. Overall, Samsonov’s key saves played a big role in securing the win for the Maple Leafs.

Takeaway Two: Matthews and Marner Showed Up When It Counted

In a game where Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner looked sluggish during much of the game, their chemistry and ability to grab opportunities proved crucial for the Maple Leafs’ win. Marner’s playmaking brilliance shone in overtime as he created space behind the Sabres’ net. His play allowed Matthews to get into the right place to capitalize on a precise pass from Marner. He fired the goal so quickly into the Sabres net, and it was hard to see. Even with the replay it happened very quickly.

While Matthews’ goal marked only his second in the last six games, it increased his NHL-leading 54th goal of the season. He’s been a consistent offensive threat all season. In addition, Matthews passed the 80-point mark for the third consecutive season.

Takeaway Three: William Nylander Played Solid Defense

William Nylander impacted last night’s game even beyond his 34th goal of the season. For someone who’s been watching him for several years, what was most interesting was his commitment to playing solid defense throughout the game. Nylander’s offensive contributions have been notable throughout the season, but last night, his defensive efforts drew attention.

William Nylander, Maple Leafs

This level of defensive intensity has been seldom seen over his career. All night, Nylander showed a willingness to engage in battles and make crucial plays without the puck. Despite the previous defensive struggles of his linemates – Tyler Bertuzzi and Max Domi, Nylander took it upon himself to shoulder the defensive responsibilities against the Sabres. He excelled in both the offensive and defensive zones.

If he can play this kind of game consistently, he could jumpstart his game to a whole new level. He certainly has the skill to do so. I can’t even imagine what an impact his solid, defensive play could have in propelling his team throughout the postseason. Honestly, it could be huge.

If Nylander can maintain this level of defensive commitment moving forward, he has the opportunity to further enhance his impact on the ice and solidify his role as a key contributor for the Maple Leafs.

Related: Maple Leafs, Canucks Among Teams Pushing Hard for Tyler Toffoli

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

More News

Discover more from NHL Trade Talk

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading