The Toronto Maple Leafs beat the New Jersey Devils for the third time this season last night.
The Toronto Maple Leafs scored four goals on their way to absolute domination and showed why they are contenders and the Devils are not.
The Leafs came out strong, got up 3-0 in the first, and then, other than brief stretch of strong play by the Devils (which happens when teams are up 3-0 and let off the gas) that culminated in two goals in thirty seconds, it was smooth sailing.
Once the Devils showed some life, the Leafs just laughed and went back to work, putting up a destructive 71% third period possession rate on their way to a 4-2 victory.
And it was a 4-2 victory that easily could have been 10-2 if not for some amazing saves by Devils goalie Keith Kinkaid in the final frame. Nazem Kadri is second in the NHL in hit posts, and he has to be first in number of times robbed by a goalie. Scientists will be struggling for years to figure out how Kinkaid stopped that one (you know which one).
Nikita Zaitsev had a hell of a game, leading the entire team in possession with a solid 70% CF, and Tavares had two goals, while back up to the back up Michael Hutchinson was impressive yet again for the Leafs.
Can’t say enough good things about Hutchinson who has given the Leafs a chance to win in every one of his five starts so far.
Really, the only bad thing about this game was that Travis Dermott got hit from behind and the refs didn’t call a match penalty. Not sure how the NHL still allows a two minute boarding call on that kind of crap, but what can you do?
If you’re the Leafs, nothing. I don’t think the NHL needs more fighting, but if there was ever an instance when jumping a guy, taking the instigator and beating him to a bloody pulp was appropriate, this was it.
On a more positive note, Zach Hyman returned and was very noticeable all night. He skated 13 5v5 minutes with a 56% possession rating. He had 17 minutes of ice time in all, and picked up an assist as well.
Not bad for a guy who missed three weeks.
The Leafs next game is Saturday against everyone’s favorite opponent, the Boston Bruins.