Now that is what we need to see every night from the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Frederik Andersen earned his first shutout if the season, the penalty kill looked sharp, and nine different Toronto Maple Leafs recorded a point in a dominating 5-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena on Saturday night.
The Maple Leafs snapped a two-game skid, won their first game without Auston Matthews in the lineup and improved their road record to 6-0-0 (The best road record in the NHL) all in the same night. Not a bad way to build momentum before heading into two days of rest before your next game.
Unlike the Maple Leafs’ 2-1 loss to the Dallas Stars, special teams play turned out to be the catalyst for the Leafs’ best game of the season so far.
Killer Penalty Kill
The Maple Leafs’ went five for five on the penalty kill last night and recorded a shorthanded goal to make it 5-0 in the third period. Guys like Par Lindholm (48.5% relative Corsi when shorthanded) and Mitch Marner (51.9% relative Corsi when shorthanded) led the way as the Leafs didn’t give that lethal Penguins power play (Their first unit was Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, Patric Hornqvist and Kris Letang) any solid chances.
Most of the Penguins’ shots came from the faceoff circle or from the point, with only one shot in the slot and 4 from the middle of the blue line. The Leafs didn’t let the Pens get anywhere close to the net and force them to the outside, giving Andersen an easier night and allowing him to see the shots when they came to the net better.
Stars Step Up for the Maple Leafs
Speaking of Andersen, he recorded his first shutout of the season with a 31 save performance against a team that prior to the game was scoring 4.09 goals per game. Andersen looked calm and made several stops with his pads, forcing the Pens to shoot higher and either into #31’s glove, off the post, or over the net.
The offence returned with a vengeance, with Morgan Rielly leading the charge with two goals and Marner, Kasperi Kapanen, and John Tavares also having two-point games. This was just what the doctor ordered for the Leafs’ offence, who had only scored two goals in their last two games.
Elsewhere in Toronto Maple Leafs Land
Patrick Marleau scored his second goal in as many games on Saturday, bringing his season total to three. He now has 538 goals in his career, moving him into a tie with Keith Tkachuk for 32nd all time. Marleau is also two assists shy of reaching 600 career assists.
Andersen’s 31-save performance was the 16th shutout of his career and tenth of his career with the Maple Leafs.
Marner is now two points away from hitting 150 points in his career. His 18 this year is tied with Rielly for the Maple Leafs’ leading scorer.
Igor Ozhiganov and Travis Dermott were the Maple Leafs’ leaders in relative Corsi on Saturday with 42.4% and 25.8%, respectively. Ron Hainsey, on the other hand, finished last on the team with a -23.8% relative Corsi.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are back at Scotiabank Arena on Tuesday when the defending Western Conference Champions, the Vegas Golden Knights, come to town.