Last night, the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Seattle Kraken 5-1. In the game, Auston Matthews scored two goals. Mark Giordano scored a rare goal in his first game back in Seattle. Finally, Timothy Liljegren and John Tavares also scored. In the Maple Leafs’ net, Ilya Samsonov made 26 saves only allowing a single goal to elude him.
The Maple Leafs went on to win the game 5-1 as part of a five-game road trip. They play back-to-back on Wednesday (Edmonton) and Thursday (Calgary). On Saturday, they will play in Vancouver and then to New Jersey to play Timo Meier’s (who was traded on Sunday) new Devils team the following Tuesday.
Takeaway One: Mark Giordano Returns “Home” with a Vengeance
Mark Giordano previously played for the Seattle Kraken before being traded to the Maple Leafs at last season’s trade deadline. In his return to Seattle on Sunday night, he scored a goal. In addition, he also blocked a single shot. With that block, he broke the NHL record for career blocked shots.
While there might be more glamorous records to hold, this feat carries with it a measure of courage not many others would risk. Blocking NHL shots can be downright painful and could result in injuries. With his block, Giordano now has 2,045 shots. That number surpasses Kris Russell’s previous record of 2,044 blocked shots. As a note, the first season the statistic was tabulated was in 2005-06.
Given that Giordano was the Kraken’s first captain, one has to wonder if his return to Seattle was a bit emotional for him.
Related: Maple Leafs’ O’Reilly on Playing with Marner: Be Ready to Shoot!
Takeaway Two: Auston Matthews Scores Two Goals
Before Sunday’s game, Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe made a tweak to the team’s top-six forwards. He swapped William Nylander and Mitch Marner. This change paid an immediate dividend. Auston Matthews, who had not scored in three games before Sunday, rang up two goals.
Obviously, Matthews put himself in the right place at the right time. And, give him the credit for those scores. The first was simply great hand/eye coordination and quick movement, while the second was a beautiful play that he finished off.
All that said, also give credit to Mitch Marner for his strong and intelligent play. His passing and on-ice IQ were directly responsible for helping to get Matthews going.
The season has been a great one for Marner. He’s been a team leader. He might not reach the scoring heights he hit last season, but he’s still playing well.
Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Keefe, Matthews, Giordano & More
Takeaway Three: No Question, Ilya Samsonov Is #1 in Toronto
To say it simply, Ilya Samsonov should be considered the number one goalie for the Maple Leafs. Although he allowed an early goal, after that he settled in nicely. There were times during the second and third periods when he just played amazingly well. He stopped shot after shot (after shot) – tons of good chances for the Kraken. They never cashed in again.
Samsonov has become the team’s go-to goalie. If the Stanley Cup playoffs started this week, he’d easily be named the starter.
It would likely be a distraction right now to consider it, but signing Samsonov for next season seems like both a priority and a no-brainer. He’s been as exceptional a goalie this season as one can find.
Related: Maple Leafs’ Reaching Their Peaks: Who’s Getting Better?
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