The Toronto Maple Leafs have not lost a game in nine days, and it doesn’t look like they’re going to slow down following a 4-1 stampeding over the Los Angeles Kings. Garret Sparks stepped up with Frederik Andersen injured and stopped 33 of 34 for the win. Kasperi Kapanen scored the first and last goal of the game, and was assisted by Auston Matthews on both of them. Jake Gardiner also picked up two assists and looked very good throughout the game.
Matthews now has seven multi-point games to open the season. I hear that’s pretty good.
Auston Matthews with his seventh straight multi-point game to open the season, joining Mario Lemieux (92-93), Kevin Stevens (92-93), Mike Bossy (84-85) and Wayne Gretzky (83-84) as those to do it.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) October 16, 2018
The Maple Leafs get off to an exhilarating start as Kapanen finds the back of the net from behind the net. The whole play started with a great breakout led by Gardiner, who lumbered from the defensive zone into the offensive zone and put the puck on net for the forwards to chase. The Kings did a frankly terrible job retrieving the puck from Matthews and co. allowing Kapanen to find some space behind the net and bank home the puck off a scrambling Jack Campbell on their second shot of the game.
This was a play by Matthews on Drew Doughty just before the goal. Lmao.
Drew Doughty trying to stop Matthews. pic.twitter.com/bPpJqSAg9I— Flintor (@TheFlintor) October 15, 2018
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but a few minutes later, Frederik Gauthier had an amazing shift. It began when the Goat dangled around a Kings defenseman at the offensive blueline as he walked in on Campbell with shockingly Matthews-like ease. His line stayed in the offensive zone for a while, doing well to create shots from the point. Eventually, Igor Ozhiganov wasn’t able to keep the puck in the Leafs possession and the play went the other way. In the high slot in the Leafs zone, Gauthier drew a high-sticking call on Kyle Clifford, sending out the Leafs incredibly potent power play.
The Kings gave the Leafs a second power play of the game (don’t do that) when Adrian Kempe got a little carried away with the holding on Par Lindholm. Lindholm has looked great in the early goings. Lot’s of drawn penalties combined with consistently out-shooting your opponent makes me a very happy fan. But back to the goal.
The Leafs get yet another goal from in tight when Patrick Marleau — who was given a universe of space, and an eternity of time — whipped a shot past the far side of Campbell. Gardiner picked up his second assist of the game, along with Josh Leivo getting his second point in as many contests.
I’ve really liked the Leafs’ third pair though one period in this game. Ozhiganov has shown the ability to play the tough game, along with being a surprisingly efficient puck-mover. His stretch pass to Andreas Johnsson — who was great in his own right — in the latter half of the period was great.
Another player who stood out was Gardiner. Two shots and two assists have been well earned for the left-shooting defenceman, who’s looked like his old puck-moving self. He looks faster! The first goal of the game was a direct result of him jumping up on the rush, and he with Zaitsev keeping the scoring chances against down to a minimum.
After one, the Kings had one stretch of play in the middle of the period where Matthews’ line with Morgan Rielly and Ron Hainsey got shelled for four shot attempts against. As a result, the Kings led in shot-attempts (12-16), shots (5-9), but not in scoring chances (6-5).
People blamed Matthews for this goal against, but a little earlier in the play, I saw a mistake by the fourth line who were just leaving the ice.
Zaitsev gave Gardiner a somewhat bad pass, but Gardiner had enough space, and support in front of him to catch up to the puck and exit the zone. However, when he tried to poke the puck up to his teammates, Leivo looked completely out of the play, and didn’t even both stretching to get the puck, while Gauthier decided he didn’t want to help and went off for a line change. The Kings were able to keep the puck on the Leafs side of the ice, immediately leading to a Ilya Kovalchuk goal assisted by Alex Iafallo.
Don’t blame Auston, and don’t blame Jake. They did their best, but they weren’t supported by their teammates.
The Leafs fell onto their heels following that goal, giving up four shots in quick succession. However, on the last shot by Tyler Toffoli off the rush, Sparks was able to parry it away with the blocker, sending the Leafs back the other way. Hyman hustled up the ice, kept the puck within him while fighting off two guys for long enough to allow Tavares a chance to retrive the puck and send it to Marner for a tap in. Way to go Sparks, and way to go Hymns.
Remember when we didn’t think Zach Hyman had good hands?— Adam Wylde (@AdamWylde) October 16, 2018
Guess he worked on that. Wow.
In terms of penalties in the period, it wasn’t a great one. Marner was caught for slashing twice. One of them he deserved, the other might be a warning shot by the referees telling him to quit it. But going the other way, Kadri was subject to a clear interference penalty by Oscar Fantenberg that affected which team had possession of the puck in the latter half of the period. It should’ve been called. The Leafs should’ve been given a power play. But whatever, the Kings are still 0% on the power play this season. WE ARE THE ZERO PERCENT!
Boy, Sparks had to keep the Leafs in it during that period. The Leafs were out-shot 15-8 in all situations, trailing the Kings 18-24 in the game. The Kings had 10 attempts on net during their power plays but failed to get any goals. Credit to the penalty killers for mostly keeping the puck to the outside, but more credit to Sparks for saving a couple tough chances in those four minutes when the defence faltered.
At the end of the day, the Leafs have the lead after two periods, despite getting out-shot badly. Get you a team who can do both, I guess.
Seriously, Travis Dermott looks like a kid hyped up on Mountain Dew, Red Bull, and Sour Keys in a ball pit. Watch him in his own zone, he’s everywhere all at once.
Here’s another quick-fire thing I thought you ought to know. Gauthier took a hooking penalty, the Leafs killed it off, and the Kings are 0/3 on the power play tonight and 0/20 on the season. Even if they score on the next one, they’ll be at 4.7%.
Oh dear golly god. Auston Matthews is starting to pass. Within seconds of a Kings giveaway at the blueline, Kapanen and Matthews break away on a 2-on-1. Kapanen to Matthews, who stttrrrrrreeetches to send the puck back to Kappy before the Finnish William Nylander goes back-hand shelf on Campbell. Oh, baby.
And from there, the Leafs held the Kings to only one goal, and claimed a 4-1 victory. Gosh, this team is a lot of fun.
Where would you play Nylander?
This poll is closed
With Kapanen and Matthews
With Hyman and Matthews
With Marleau and Matthews
With Kadri and someone else
Centering the fourth line