A must-win home atmosphere was enough to power the Toronto Maple Leafs to victory.
Frederik Andersen had another incredible night, Patrick Marleau inched closer towards a milestone, and the penalty kill stepped up once again as the Toronto Maple Leafs got a much-needed win at home over the Vegas Golden Knights, 3-1.
A lot has been made about the Maple Leafs’ home record this year, and this had to have felt as nice for the players as it was for the fans in attendance. The Leafs are now 2-2 since Auston Matthews went down with a shoulder injury, and will have Wednesday night off to prepare for another home tilt on Thursday.
The offense did enough to bag the win, but it was the six-foot four netminder who was the star of the show.
Headlining Act: Andersen the Magician
Andersen looked unstoppable last night, stopping 36 of 37 shots for his second consecutive 30-plus save performance. He didn’t let Cody Eakin’s second period goal rattle him and didn’t let the Golden Knights (Who out shot the Leafs 37-20) take advantage of their numerous scoring opportunities.
Since Matthews went down, Andersen has been the backbone of the Maple Leafs. In his last five games, he has allowed seven goals (1.4 goals allowed per game) and stopped 137 of 144 shots (0.951 SV%). He’s now 8-5-0 (Tied for most wins in the league with Andrei Vasilevskiy) with a 2.18 GAA (Seventh in the league) and a .929 SV% (Ninth in the league), basically Andersen is playing like a top-tier goalie. If he keeps this up the Leafs will not have to rely on their offense as much, although having their goalie stop over 30 shots a night will get tiresome and it should be avoided.
Golden Knights Roll Snake Eyes on the Power Play
Another vital area that helped the Leafs was their penalty kill. Sitting at 83.7% (Good for sixth in the league), the PK has picked up the slack left by the Leafs’ falling power play and they continued their good form last night, going three for three last night for their third consecutive game without allowing a power play goal.
Elsewhere in Toronto Maple Leafs Land
Jake Gardiner took two penalties last night, a hooking call in the first period and a slashing call in third. Those were the first two penalties Gardiner had taken all year.
Patrick Marleau recorded a secondary assist on Nazem Kadri’s empty net goal, his 599th career assist. Marleau is now tied with Alex Kovalev for 88th on the NHL’s all time assist leaders and is one assist away from becoming the 88th player to record 600 assists in the NHL’s history.
With his second period goal, Mitch Marner is now the Maple Leafs’ leading scorer with 19 points, one ahead of Morgan Rielly and two ahead of John Tavares.
The Leafs’ home win contributed to the home teams winning all nine games on the schedule last night. It is only the fifth time in NHL history that home teams have swept nine or more games on a given night, with the last occurrence coming in 2004.
The Toronto Maple Leafs now sit at 10-5-0 with a 4-5-0 record at home and 6-0-0 on the road. They sit in second place in the Atlantic Division, three points back of the Tampa Bay Lightning and two points ahead of the third place Boston Bruins.
Thursday night will see the Toronto Maple Leafs back in action at Scotiabank Arena as Taylor Hall and the New Jersey Devils come to town in the first of three meetings between the two teams this season.