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Recap: Matthews hits 50 goals and the Maple Leafs win big

A rough start turned into a pretty dominant win

Winnipeg Jets v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Please just make it through this game without more goalies or defensemen getting hurt.

GO LEAFS GO!

PERIOD ONE

My early request was mocked by the hockey gods, as Michael Bunting took a crosscheck to the side of the head by Ville Heinola early on. Bunting stayed down for a bit but looks fine, but there was no penalty called at all on the play.

Not long after, it looked like several Leafs had received a crosscheck to the side of the net as Wheeler just carved through everyone on the ice and scored a pretty goal. This has been a terrible start in more ways than one.

Mikheyev had a glorious chance after a brutal turnover in the Jets end, but Comrie made the save.

Ah, so it’s going to be one of THOSE games. Jets make it 2-0. A missed shot bounced off the boards perfectly to a Jets player, who tucked it in off a wrap around as Källgren was looking the other way.

Leafs will have a chance to make this period less embarrassing after Wheeler tripped Brodie, sending Toronto to the powerplay.

Narrator: they didn’t.

But Spezza drew another penalty just as the first one expired, trying to emulate Wheeler’s goal.

Narrator: they still didn’t.

BUT MARK GIORDANO DID! Well, actually two Jets did, BUT MARK GIORDANO SHOT IT OFF BOTH OF THEM AND I’M SURE IT WAS INTENTIONAL! 2-1 Jets.

Leafs almost tied it up off a great rush by Simmonds. He’s needed a good game for a while now, so that’s a good sign.

Huge save by Källgren to keep it a one goal game.

Tavares takes a late tripping penalty forechecking behind the Jets net... unfortunate place and timing. Hopefully the Leafs can kill it off. The period ends before the penalty, with the Leafs killing off the first half of it.

First Period Thoughts:

Shot attempts: Maple Leafs held a slight edge with 11 to 10 in shot attempt share at even strength.

Expected goals: The Jets owned the expected goal share though: 63% at evens, because they had much more dangerous chances. Leafs really didn’t get much in close to the net compared to usual.

Special teams: Leafs went 0 for 2 on the powerplay, and honestly I thought they were really trying to force as many passes to Matthews as they could... and it was often picked off/deflected with ease. They killed off the first half of the penalty kill to end the period, but not great to miss two great chances at tying it up.

Standouts: Simmonds had a great rush that almost set up a goal for Clifford, and the only other two Leafs with a positive xGF% in the first were Kerfoot and Mikheyev.

Heatmap:

PERIOD TWO

The Leafs not only kill off the rest of the penalty to start the period, but they drew a tripping call right after it! Another chance for the Leafs to show their quality...

AND THIS TIME THEY DO! AUSTON MATTHEWS LAUNCHES A SLAPSHOT FROM THE POINT AND NYLANDER IS WILLY ON THE SPOT FOR THE REBOUND! 2-2 TIE GAME!

Justin Holl had an ultimate brain cramp. He faceplanted with no one around him, then tried to save face by gloving the puck, then took a forearm to the face and the usual dumb stuff ensues. Holl gets the only penalty for closing his hand on the puck....

...and the Jets score very quickly on the powerplay. 3-2 Jets.

BUT WHO CARES BECAUSE 23 SECONDS LATER CAPTAIN JOHN TAVARES TIES IT UP OFF ANOTHER REBOUND!

Leafs are going back to the powerplay, and WILLIAM NYLANDER CAME TO PLAY TONIGHT! HE CLEANS UP ANOTHER REBOUND AND GIVES THE LEAFS THEIR FIRST LEAD OF THE GAME!

Matthews can smell 50 goals... but after chaos in the Jets’ end, he just can’t get the goal, or set up Marner and Bunting.

Some back and forth and good chances for both teams, but the Leafs wind up back on the penalty kill. BUT PENALTY KILLS ARE POWERPLAYS FOR ILYA MIKHEYEV! ENGVALL SPRINGS HIM ON A BREAKAWAY AND THE SOUP MAN MAKES NO MISTAKE!

The period ends with some more scrums between Simmonds and Clifford, and Dubois on the Jets.

Second Period Thoughts:

Shot attempts: Well that was a much better period. Leafs had a bigger edge 16-10 in shot attempts at 5v5.

Expected goals: But they also doubled their expected goal output, while halving the Jets’. That led to a 74% expected goal share at 5v5.

Special teams: The Leafs had two powerplay goals in the second period. They did give up one, but they also had a short handed goal. That’s the difference in the game right now, so good job to the Leafs!

Standouts: Willy had the two goals, Mikheyev has the shortie and a strong 5v5 game as well, and Tavares has had an excellent game as well.

Heatmap:

PERIOD THREE

Jets start the period pushing real hard. They’re not getting a lot from the pressure so far, as Leafs are preventing anything that dangerous from developing.

The arena is frequently chanting for Matthews to get 50. The place is gonna blow if he gets it.

So far the best chance the Leafs had was Willy almost potting the hat trick goal.

Both teams keep flirting with getting a bit out of hand, with little things like this now and then.

Leafs go to the powerplay again. Let’s get Auston that 50th goal! He wants it, the building wants it, the Leafs want it for him. He got real close on the powerplay.

David Kampf with a veteran play. Had the empty net but banked it off the post and out so Matthews still had an empty net to score on.

AND SCORE MATTHEWS DOES! HE FIRES IT INTO THE EMPTY NET TO HIT THE GOLDEN NUMBER AND TAKE THE GOAL SCORING LEAD!

There’s some late game shenanigans. Clifford really wanted to fight Dubois but couldn’t get him, so Dillon stepped in so they could grapple a bit and get thrown out. Then Simmonds was jawing with a Jets player before a faceoff and the refs just... threw him out of the game before it could lead to anything.

BUT RIGHT OFF THAT FACEOFF NYLANDER FEEDS LILJEGREN FOR THE BEAUTIFUL ONE TIME GOAL!

Final Thoughts:

Shot attempts: Leafs kept the shot attempts pretty even in the third, despite holding the lead. The game ends with the Leafs having around 54% of the shot attempt share at 5v5.

Expected goals: Same story with expected goals, even in the third but the Leafs had around a 55% edge on the game. They started the game looking pretty bad but came back in a big way.

Special teams: Call it a win. Three goals on special teams while giving up just one? That’s a good night, any night.

Standouts: AUSTON MATTHEWS 50 GOALS BABY WOOOOOOOOO!

Heatmap: