It certainly wasn’t a textbook win, but the Toronto Maple Leafs came into Buffalo to play the Sabres and left with a victory. At the same time, Joseph Woll played in his NHL debut and won the game – also taking home his first victory. As I noted, that wasn’t exactly textbook either; but, in the end, a win is a win both for the Maple Leafs and for Woll.
The Maple Leafs’ goals came from Morgan Rielly (who got the game-winner in the third period), John Tavares, Ondrej Kase, Michael Bunting, and David Kampf. Kampf’s goal was one of the easiest goals I’ve ever seen scored and slowly slid untouched and unseen under a kneeling Sabres’ “defender” and through the goalie’s five-hole. But, in keeping with the theme for this post; again, a goal is a goal.
The game sort of looked easy and sort of looked hard. The Sabres tied it on a young goalie in the third period; however, in the end, the Maple Leafs never trailed during the game and won their eighth game in their last nine tries.
Takeaway One: Joseph Woll Must Be Incredibly Happy
Joseph Woll looked nervous during the game but made a big save right off the bat. Then his team scored first. So it looked as if the victory would be Woll’s no matter what. However, as noted, Woll gave up two quick Sabres’ scores to allow them to tie the game. Fortunately, the Maple Leafs hemmed in the Sabres and Rielly scored late in the third period to save the game from heading into overtime.
Woll’s experienced success in Buffalo. During the 2016 NHL Draft, he was chosen by the Maple Leafs. During the 2018 World Junior Championships, he helped Team USA win a bronze medal. This was his third success – a win in his debut.
Ever the encourager, Rielly said after the game, “Obviously, there are areas of our game that we’d like to clean up. But the fact that he (Woll) gets to walk out of here with a win and a game puck and everything like that is awesome and he deserves it. There’s plenty more where that came from.”
Takeaway Two: Morgan Rielly Finally Shows Up on the Scoresheet
Talk about dramatic. Rielly scored the game-winning goal with only 12 seconds left in his team’s 5-4 win. That seeing-eye goal (it traveled through a crowd, hit the crossbar, and spun into the net) was Rielly’s first score of the season.
However, it wasn’t the only time Rielly came to the rescue. During the early part of the third period, Rielly also assisted on a goal by Maple Leafs’ captain John Tavares. With that goal and assist, Rielly now has 10 points (one goal and nine assists) in 16 games for this season.
Rielly seems to be playing well but hasn’t started to put up points with much regularity – yet. But the season is still young, and the team is starting to get on a roll. He could start scoring.
Takeaway Three: Ondrej Kase Makes the Most of His Time in the Top-Six
Really, there might be more worthy candidates to be mentioned in the three takeaways of last night’s game. For example, the third line of David Kampf, Alex Kerfoot, and Pierre Engvall had a great game. However, moving Kase to the top six is something I think he’s deserved and I really wanted to see. His score didn’t let me down.
Although the Auston Matthews, William Nylander, and Kase line didn’t light up the scoresheet, Kase did fire his third goal in three games. After a five-game scoring drought, he now has a three-game scoring streak – all goals. It was a good shot and, for me, highlighted that Kase is both a bargain for the team and a really strong addition.
I look forward to seeing more of him in a higher role. He works hard, plays solid defense, and can turn on the offense when he needs to. He could reach the 20-goal mark if he gets a chance to play higher in the lines.
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