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Three Takeaways from Maple Leafs Series-Clinching 2-1 OT Win

For the first time in 19 years, the Toronto Maple Leafs advanced to the second-round of the Eastern Conference. Who led the team to the win?

The Toronto Maple Leafs finally did it. They advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals for the first time since 2004, beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in Game 6 of their first-round series.

The win marks the end of a frustrating drought for the Maple Leafs, who had been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for the past six years. They will face either the Boston Bruins or the Florida Panthers in the next round. The Lightning, who won back-to-back championships in 2020 and 2021, were eliminated from the playoffs for the first time in four years.

For the Maple Leafs, a Number of Players Contributed

In my three takeaways for this post, I’m going to name the team’s three stars and some honorable mentions. For the Maple Leafs, a number of players contributed to the win.

First Star for the Maple Leafs: Goalie Ilya Samsonov

Ilya Samsonov made 31 saves in Game 6. He was on his game and was dialed in all night long. He allowed only one goal, becoming the first Maple Leafs’ goalie to carry his team to a playoff series win since 2004. What a great story for this young first-year Maple Leafs goalie.

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Second Star for the Maple Leafs: Auston Matthews

Auston Matthews scored the first goal in Game 6, and that gave his team some comfort – at least for a while. It was his fifth goal of the postseason. He’s now riding a four-game, five-goal streak. In this first-round series, he had nine points (five goals, four assists) in six games.

Third Star for the Maple Leafs: John Tavares

Although in total it wasn’t the greatest night for John Tavares, he was there when he needed to be. He scored the game-winning goal in overtime in Game 6, powering his team to the overtime win. It was a fortuitous bounce, but it wouldn’t have happened unless he threw the puck at the net. He finished Round 1 with four goals and three assists (for seven points) in six games.

Honorable Mention for the Maple Leafs

Michael Bunting: After sitting out Game 5 as a healthy scratch, Bunting drew in for Game 6. He played 16:21 TOI and did a great job keeping his cool. He also engaged the play with a ton of speed and jump. With this performance, he’s likely back in the good graces (if he ever were out) of the Maple Leafs’ coaching staff.

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Matthew Knies: Interestingly, Knies was on the ice for all three of the Maple Leafs’ overtime goals. Last night he picked up an assist on the game-winning goal and was instrumental in controlling the puck to give Tavares time to set up his score. He controlled the puck behind the net and maintained possession before getting it to Tavares, who circled the net. Knies once again got the puck and popped it back to the captain, who skated out, wheeled around, and fired a shot that bounced off a Lightning player’s skate and into the next.

Morgan Rielly: Once again, Rielly was in the middle of the team’s offense. He also got an assist on the game-winning goal in Game 6. For the postseason thus far, he’s on a five-game, eight-point scoring streak (three goals, five assists).

What Now for the Maple Leafs?

The Maple Leafs now move on to Round 2 of the playoffs. They await to see which team they’ll face. The NHL’s best team on the season – the Boston Bruins, or the surprising Florida Panthers. Their Game 7 will be played in Boston tonight.

Toronto will need to continue their strong play in order to advance further in the postseason.

Related: Old Prof’s Bonus Playoff Maple Leafs Trivia



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  2. gcmgome

    April 30, 2023 at 9:42 am

    One pleasant surprise about last night’s game and the 11-7 forward/defender line up is how Noel Acciari with 18:31 TOI, seemed to easily take on 4-5 minutes of more ice time than he was getting throughout the series so far.
    Up to this point, Acciari has been a very serviceable veteran option taking on varied defensive responsibilities and even chipping in a couple of goals. I wonder if his post season body of work will forced him into the conversation of re-signing priorities for next season when thoughts turn to such things?

  3. Roy Peters

    April 30, 2023 at 11:13 am

    I hope in the next series that keefe has learned from his mistakes, Holl was a big mistake till benched in game 6 and activating Liligren who played great was a big positive. The leafs need to play 12 forwards and 6 defense against next opponent Liligren and Gio should be a pair. I don’t want to ever see Holl wearing Leafs jersey again.

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