Welcome to the scene, Nick Robertson. The top Leafs pick from 2020 made his rookie season debut with a bang as he scored the game tying and overtime winning goals in a 3-2 comeback win for the Maple Leafs against his brother’s team, the Dallas Stars. Robertson looked like a much more complete player, and a perfect muse for William Nylander on the opposite wing, as his winning goal turned a pair of great defensive plays into the final buzzer. Alex Kerfoot scored the other goal for the Leafs on the power play as the Leafs came back from a poor first half.
Robertson talking about this mom post-game pic.twitter.com/CHswY0q6vU— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) October 21, 2022
Ilya Samsonov kept things quiet at his end of the ice as the Leafs had to work to get themselves back in the game. I want to highlight Samsonov’s solid goaltending throughout the whole game as the Leafs generally got out-shot in all three periods. 26 saves on 28 shots (on 2.94 expected goals) kept the game from getting away and gave them a chance to win.
Auston Matthews suffered hits and blocked shots to his wrist, leg, and head, but he pushed through and played well. He hasn’t broken out just yet, but he’s working hard everywhere else.
Mete got the first two chances of the game for the Leafs. One came from a Nylander pass up the slot as Mete came down from the point, but his shot was blocked. The second came off the rush with Engvall where his chance just barely didn’t make it through the pads of Wedgewood. Big credit to ZAR for winning that battle and creating to 2-on-1. Lots of quiet things he does that helps on the ice. Ditto for Tavares as well in the period.
Victor Mete makes a mark on the game early pic.twitter.com/DeMJ6hLf5C— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) October 20, 2022
Mete came that close to score his first pic.twitter.com/WOj8YQI4CT— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) October 20, 2022
After getting an early lead in shots, the Leafs let themselves slip, allowing five shots in a row, ultimately ending up with fourth liner Luke Glendening scoring from a rebound in front of the net. Pressure is always good, unless you don’t make good on those chances before the other team gets theirs.
The Leafs got called for two penalties (Marner and Giordano) before Rielly drew a high sticking call from Jamie Benn. After the Leafs penalty ended Benn cross-checked Matthews on the wrist. Matthews had to leave the ice and wince the pain off with a trainer behind him. The wrists are definitely a touchy area for Matthews for a number of reasons.
Jaime Benn caught Matthews with a cross-check pic.twitter.com/lTJWa24bpf— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) October 20, 2022
Shot share was 7-18 for Dallas, with expected goals at 74% for the Stars. Bad bad period for the Leafs despite the tepidly good start. They got outplayed for the second half of it for sure.
Who knew all it took for the Leafs to get their legs back would be to fall over a little bit, get a couple power plays, and score! That’s pretty much how the first half of the second period went.
After a good opening couple of shifts from the top six and a drawn penalty by Bunting, Alex Kerfoot opened the scoring for the Leafs, burying a rebound from Sandin’s shot on the second PP unit
Here’s one thing that stood out to me. When the first line was in the defensive one and dealing with some heavy forecheckers (lots of body checks and stick lifts), Bunting was flat on his feet and not trying to block any shots, whereas both Matthews and Marner were. Matthews even got hurt blocking a shot at the end of the shift.
Nylander and Rielly with some magic on the 4v4 after Aston-Reese and JRob got penalties a minute after each other.
Robertson showed off his big shot and drew a penalty a little later as he started to look more alive.
The Leafs got four power plays in the second period, scoring on one of them and looking between great and mid on the rest of them. At 5v5, the Stars still led in shots (8-13), but the Leafs had 56% of the expected goals. Nylander was dominant with the puck with his skating and ability to make other players open for passes. Tavares also looked like a beast. Matthews struggled physically in the second period, blocking a shot and getting pushed around. Marner has been okay, but mostly only good on the PK.
couple of close chances for Tavares pic.twitter.com/cqRyZn0e0H— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) October 21, 2022
And solid Samsonov saved some more.
Samsonov makes two stops on Gurianov pic.twitter.com/lsThqLR1MS— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) October 21, 2022
HIS NAME IS NICK ROBERTSON! Set up by Nylander (again), Robertson buried his chance in the slot to give the Leafs their first lead in the game.
I swear, behind every Robertson chance there’s a Nylander giving it to him. I love Willy, he’s so good.
Roberston almost scored again— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) October 21, 2022
Nylander creates the odd-man rush after stealing the puck in the neutral zone pic.twitter.com/dYToZJJ0ZX
2-2 2-1 2-2
With Kerfoot in the box for puck over glass, the Stars quickly scored on their power play. Except they didn’t because the referee quickly waved off the goal because Seguin pushed Samsonov into the net, resulting in the puck going in the net. But then that wasn’t true because after the Stars asked for a review, it was determined Seguin pushed Marner who pushed Samsonov into the net, and for some reason that means Seguin did nothing. So in the end, tie game.
Tyler Seguin's goal is being challenged for goalie interference pic.twitter.com/aa0eBnGJ1U— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) October 21, 2022
there's definitely contact with Samsonov but it's mostly from Marner— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) October 21, 2022
the question is who's responsible for the contact pic.twitter.com/3ZxdcIy9gl
The Leafs had a good long PP1 shift with about five minutes to go, but they couldn’t get a clean pass over the slot. Tavares had the best chance off a Nylander point shot.
With about a minute left to go, Mark Giordano was shoved into the boards and looked hurt. A penalty was called on the play, but Gio might’ve suffered an injury.
Giordano taken hard into the boards— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) October 21, 2022
looks to be okay pic.twitter.com/vh2mU2tahi
The third was the first period the Leafs outshot the Stars at 5v5 after their offense finally came alive. Shots were 19-14 in the high-event period where both teams scored a goal.
The power play continued into the OT with the Leafs having a 4-on-3 for about a minute. Matthews, Nylander, Marner, Tavares. On the second shift just before the power play ended, Kerfoot was inches away from burying the chance from in front of the net to end the game.
Nylander fed Marner for a breakaway, but Heiskanen knocked the puck away just in time,
NICKYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!! I want to highlight two defensive plays (yeah, not just one) that Robertson made before earning that goal. First, he stepped up to block a pass from brother Jason to Heiskanen on the shift just before. If he hadn’t done that, the game would’ve been over. The second was stealing the puck and pushing the play the other way. And Matthews was always going to give it to the kid, he was on it.
NICK ROBERSTON— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) October 21, 2022
OVERTIME WINNER! DEFENCE TO OFFENCE! pic.twitter.com/FPbAzlCEaU
Leafs bench reaction to Robertson's winner pic.twitter.com/fttniDd5ID— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) October 21, 2022