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Leafs defense stifles Jets, Campbell wins again

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Leafs win despite hairy power play.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Winnipeg Jets
WINNIPEG, MB - MARCH 31: Zach Bogosian #22 and Jake Muzzin #8 of the Toronto Maple Leafs look on from the bench during first period action against the Winnipeg Jets at the Bell MTS Place on March 31, 2021 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images

The Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Winnipeg Jets by a score of 3-1 on a Wednesday night in Winnipeg. Auston Matthews, Zach Hyman, and Alex Kerfoot scored the goals for the Leafs while Jack Campbell stopped 26 of 27 in the win. The entire first line or Matthews, Hyman, and Mitch Marner had two points — they were electric in this game, and especially in the first period.

Kerfoot’s goal came shorthanded, the team’s first shorty since Muzzin’s goal on the 13th of March. The Leafs went 0/5 on the power play, which means they are now 0/22 in their last nine games including tonight. You’d think the Leafs would score one after having at least a 50% chance of scoring a power play goal in four of the last nine games in this streak. Luck is just not finding them, two units or loaded.

But hey, they still won, so that’s good.

First Period

1-0

Matthews opens the scoring within the first five minutes! Marner made a great play at the top of the offensive zone to keep the puck in and force the Jets to abort their rush up the ice. Hyman then found Matthews alone in the slot for the goal. On the play, Pierre-Luc Dubois tried to run Hyman, but missed, smashing into Derek Forbort instead. Forbort had to leave the game. Smart move, PLD.

Jason Spezza drew a penalty for the Leafs off an odd-man rush that nearly connected with Kerfoot. The first power play unit was (thankfully) stacked with Tavares and Nylander out with Matthews, Marner, and Rielly. Nylander had the best chance as Matthews and Rielly were able to move the puck from a busy right side of the ice to the left. I’ve been a broken record but love Nylander’s shot from the wing.

2-0

Marner has been heating up recently and he torched Logan Stanley with a move in the slot that opened Matthews up for a shot. He, naturally, hit the post but Hyman was right there to bury the rebound. A second goal in the period for that line. The goal was initially challenged for goalie interference, but it ended up being fine. The Leafs then went to the power play because a failed coach’s challenge is a delay of game penalty.

A few minutes later, the Jets iced the puck with a tired group on the ice and a fresh Matthews line against them. Blake Wheeler flipped the puck out of the rink and gave the Leafs their third power play — which they didn’t score on again. I thought we were supposed to get an advantage?

The Leafs then took a penalty with Engvall going into the box. The Jets didn’t exactly make the most of their chance either.

After One

5v5 stats:

  • Shot attempts: 13-8 (62%)
  • Shots on goal: 9-4
  • Scoring Chances: 12-2
  • Expected goals: 1.68-0.15 (92%)

Thoughts:

I would just like to repeat this. Not only did the Leafs double the Jets in shots, BUT THEY HELD 92% OF THE EXPECTED GOALS! JUST LOOK AT THE SHOT MAP!!!

The Jets did get some chances at the final portion of the period with their power play and subsequent zone time. I would be worried about this in the next two periods as the refs inevitably “even up” the penalties because the Leafs have had a two-penalty “advantage.”

Second Period

The Leafs kept up their controlling offensive game at even strength. Galchenyuk continued to show himself as a strong puck handler with evasive moves and good vision to find guys moving about him. Mikheyev had a half chance on Hellebuyck after dropping his shoulder on a Jets defenseman, but Hellebuyck stopped him and the play ended. The Leafs on the whole really didn’t give up much beyond singular shots from the point from the Jets. Nikolaj Ehlers looked quite dangerous, though, but Campbell was playing well.

In the second, the Jets announced Blake Wheeler wouldn’t return to the game. He was high-sticked by Engvall in the first, stayed for the power play, but didn’t return after that. Still not sure what the injury is.

Muzzin got called for slashing, sending the Jets to another power play late in the period. The Leafs were mostly able to keep the pucks away from Campbell, mostly thanks to the Jets missing the net on on a lot of their shots.

That penalty was followed up with a second power play for the Jets, Brodie for high-sticking — he actually knocked out some teeth. This was a four-minute double minor that sent essentially closed out the period with the Leafs shorthanded.

3-0

Kerfy with a shorty! Again, the Leafs were keeping the Jets stuck along the boards and it eventually broke their way with Mikheyev sending Kerfoot on a breakaway. It was a nice shot for the Leafs first shorthanded goal since Muzzin’s goal also against the Jets.

3-1

In the dying seconds of the Jets first two minutes on the power play, Josh Morrissey got them on the board with a point shot that go through traffic. This came really quickly after the Kerfoot goal. The Leafs were able to kill off the rest of the four-minute penalty without much stress.

The Leafs then threw out Matthews - Tavares - Nylander after the power play. It was fun, you had to be there.

After Two

5v5 stats:

  • Shot attempts: 10-21 (32%)
  • Shots on goal: 4-7
  • Scoring Chances: 5-7
  • Expected goals: 0.25-0.74 (26%)

Thoughts:

The regression hit the Leafs hard in that period as they were very much not the same offensive team as they were in the first. In terms of expected goals, the Leafs still did more with less. Most of the shots from the Jets were coming from the outside and wings. Those were dangerous, but not something Campbell and the defense couldn’t handle in terms of rebounds.

Third Period

The Leafs didn’t start the third the way they finished the second. Their offense came out flying with Galchenyuk nearly potting home a sweet goal after a feed from Tavares. Matthews then tried to set up a chance on the following shift. The Leafs looked faster overall.

The Leafs got a fourth power play with Mathieu Perreault going to the box for hooking. Again, the Leafs didn’t get a goal, despite more chances.

Stanley started to get chippy with Matthews, who responded with shade.

The Jets shortened the bench in the third, and by the second half of the period you could really tell from their pace. The Kerfoot line was able to hem them in a couple times and simply out-work them. It’s good to carry a lead rather than try to come from behind.

By the final few minutes, the Leafs were fully in their turtle shell, just collapsing in front and pushing the puck out. Nylander did a good job on his last shift to challenge Hellebuyck down low on the forecheck.

With two minutes left, the Jets pulled Hellebuyck, but took a penalty late in the game, giving the Leafs the win.

Full game 5v5 stats:

  • Shot attempts: 30-39 (44%)
  • Shots on goal: 16-19
  • Scoring Chances: 18-14
  • Expected goals: 2.19-1.07 (67%)

Thoughts:

The Matthews line were the stars of this game, but I think it overshadowed a really good performance from Galchenyuk, who had three scoring chances and looked really confident and sharp offensively.

The defense quietly did a great job and Campbell played great, together they kept the Jets to one goal, zero at even strength. The forwards also played their part in getting the puck out of the zone and commanding the puck in the offensive zone so the puck couldn’t be getting shot at Campbell at the other end.