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Three Takeaways from Maple Leafs’ OT Win vs. Panthers

The Toronto Maple Leafs won a comeback 5-4 victory over the Florida Panthers. What were the three key takeaways from the game?

It was a wild game. In the end, the Toronto Maple Leafs came from behind to beat the Florida Panthers in overtime by a score of 5-4. The game saw two Maple Leafs’ stars at work.

One star was Ilya Samsonov, who replaced Matt Murray early in the second period and stopped all 11 shots he faced. That gave the Maple Leafs a chance to inch back goal-by-goal. Murray had given up four goals on eight shots in 21:41 of ice time before he left.

The second star was William Nylander, who scored the game-winner at 1:53 of overtime. It was his 24th goal of the season. Once again, it was patented Nylander play where he seemed to create this goal out of nothing but his great effort. He started to carry the puck deep in Florida’s zone and didn’t quit until it was behind the goalie.

Before his overtime heroics, Nylander had tied the game with the only goal in the third period. He also added an assist on Auston Matthews’ power-play goal just before the second period ended.

Mitch Marner registered two assists to extend his home point streak to a club-record 19 games. Dryden Hunt and Alex Kerfoot also scored for the Maple Leafs. The team had lost their previous two games and might have lost this one, too. Except for the heroics described here.

Takeaway One: Matt Murray Needs Relief

As noted, Matt Murray was the starting goaltender against the Panthers. He had a rough start in his last game and allowed four goals on 34 shots. He lost 4-3 to the Boston Bruins in Saturday’s game. He was looking to bounce back last night; however, he did worse than he had against the Bruins.

Murray was replaced by Samsonov in the second period after he his four goals on eight shots. In truth, he wasn’t helped by his team in front of him. They were simply not playing well, and Murray took the brunt of the problems.

Regardless, Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe decided enough was enough and made a change in the net as a way to spur his team’s performance. The move worked. The team was able to crawl and claw back into the game.

For Murray, it was the second start in a row where he had allowed four goals. In fact, it’s the fourth time in his last seven games it’s happened. Currently, his record is 11-5-2, with a goals-against-average of 2.73 and a .911 save percentage for the season.

Related: Ex-Maple Leafs’ Defenseman Jake Gardiner: Where Is He Now?

Takeaway Two: Ilya Samsonov Inspires the Victory

Samsonov’s relief appearance helped his team secure the win. It was his 13th win of the season against four regulation losses and an overtime loss. He also has posted a goals-against-average of 2.24 with a save percentage of .916.

Samsonov has not been playing consistently well over the last six games, but he sure was Ilya-on-the-spot last night. With Murray struggling, what might this mean for Samsonov? Will the team utilize strict time-sharing between the two goalies? Will one goalie emerge as the goalie who performs consistently well?

More to come.

Related: Three Takeaways from Maple Leafs’ 4-3 Loss to Bruins

Takeaway Three: William Nylander Makes the Difference

As described earlier, William Nylander had an outstanding game. He scored both the game-tying goal and the overtime winner, and he added an assist. The Maple Leafs were down but they came back with Nylander contributing the bulk of the heavy lifting.

Credit Nylander for staying the course. Surprisingly (to me), he missed a penalty shot in the game, but he just kept pushing. Good karma, because he ended up having a puck go in off him about five minutes later to tie the game at 4-4.

Nylander has been consistently good this season. He might be kept off the scoresheet for a game or two; however, even when he doesn’t score, he’s still found ways to get into the fray and help his team win. Don’t tell Maple Leafs’ fans who wanted him gone last season, but he’s setting himself apart from other good players. He’s becoming an elite player.

Now the only question is what kind of a contract will this kind of play inspire? But that’s a question for Nylander and the Maple Leafs to figure out in the summer of 2024. It’s likely going to be a big one.




  1. Robert Harrison

    January 18, 2023 at 6:36 am

    The Leafs were never down 4 – 1 last night as the score was 3 – 2 at the end of the first period.

  2. Jon Harding

    January 18, 2023 at 7:57 am

    ….and Morgan Reilly played quite well. Really good to see this.

  3. Ssdd

    January 18, 2023 at 9:23 am

    Okay Professor, here’s my take on your takeaways of last nights game.
    Murray gave up 2 softies,1st & 4th, that have nothing to do with the way the team IFO Murray were playing. The 4th was another questionable goal but I’ll cut some slack because Benn may have been partially screening him.
    Other than you, who is surprised that Nylander lifted the puck over the net. I was fully expecting a shot from the slot that would have gone over Bobrovsky’s head or wide. An outstanding game??? The OT winner was outstanding, highlight reel. His good fortune to be the last player the puck pin balled off of on the tying goal, kudos though for going to the front of the net. Not an outstanding game but a good finish. As far as criticism of Nylander & his accent to elite status. First goal in 6 games last night, that’s not the performance of an elite player. To his credit, this his first dry spell this season unlike last year when he had several dry spells (look it up). Also to his credit, he seems much more engaged this year, no real examples of him showing indifference or pulling the chute. A good player, yes. Elite, not quite Professor.
    More valid takeaway, 3 PP’s in the first 10 minutes, not a sniff & gave up a shortie! Another valid takeaway, what was up with the officiating? While there is a history between Maurice & St Laurent that may not have bode well for the Panthers, it was more than that. Utter incompetence comes to mind.

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