Home sweet home lifts the Maple Leafs out of their losing streak
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Tuesday, January 14, 2020
Toronto Maple Leafs 7 - New Jersey Devils 4
Toronto, ON - Despite being pulled in two of the last three games Frederik Anderson got the start in net. He said pregame, “I'm looking for a bounce back,” and the Leafs all star netminder struggled late giving up four goals on 29 shots. Three of which were in the final eight minutes when his teammates sat back. The Toronto Maple Leafs with a 7-4 victory over the New Jersey Devils. Toronto returned to their winning ways under Sheldon Keefe to start their three game homestand.
Early on it was the captain who wanted to end the Leafs three game losing streak. William Nylander went to Rasmus Sandin at the blueline. Sandin toed the line before shooting a long shot straight on. John Tavares tipped it over Louis Domingue's glove. Sandin in his first NHL game since being named top defenceman at the World Juniors. Tavares' 18th goal of the year broke the tie just 5:17 into the game.
Then halfway through the period it was the fourth lines turn. Great offensive forecheck by Jason Spezza who was playing in his 1100 NHL game. He went hard behind the net and knocked the puck from Will Butcher. It bounced to Frederick Gauthier who skated to the right hash mark before beating Domingue short-side and low blocker. Gauthier now has six goals this season.
A great chance for more. Nylander sent in one on one versus Domingue. With the defence in toe he didn't have much time. Nylander was turned away by the blocker.
Toronto’s puck dominance continued on their powerplay. An almost identical shooting spot as Sandin’s first assist(the centre blueline) resulted in another. This time it was Zach Hyman who tipped it home with just four seconds left in the period. This time though, Sandin shot high and Hyman deflected it low. Sandin’s first multi-point effort in his seventh career NHL game.
A great first period ended with a three goal Maple Leafs lead. Toronto outshot New Jersey 16-7 and were leading in the faceoff dot as well, 14-9.
The tip show continued.
Pierre Engvall put it on net from the high slot. Nylander got his stick on the puck. It went under the glove of Domingue. Nylander’s 20th tally made in 4-0 Leafs.
The Devils finally got one. Catching the Leafs on a change, Blake Coleman looked to be on a breakaway. Dmytro Timashov a fantastic effort to get back and put his body on Coleman. Unfortunately he spun and beat Anderson’s glove. Coleman’s 15th of the year and third in his last four games.
It was quickly answered.
Toronto on their third power play of the game. Tavares led the break into the zone. He made an excellent play throwing it back across the slot to Mitch Marner. He skated into the right circle and instead of taking the shot found Austin Matthews at the side of the net. Leafs must have had a bet going because it was their fourth deflection of the game making it 5-1. Matthews 9th goal with the extra skater.
Cory Schneider then came in to replace Domingue. Schneider's first NHL action in over two months since he was placed on waivers and sent to the Binghamton Devils. Jack Hughes also left the game in the second and didn’t return. Word is he was sick and not injured.
The second ended with Toronto up 5-1. The Leafs 12th game this year scoring five plus goals. Through 40 minutes Toronto held New Jersey to just 17 shots against Anderson.
The start of the third was a similar sight. Hyman in deep put it back to Marner on the left boards. The Leafs playmaker skated to the hash mark and again past up a good shot for a great one. He went cross-crease to Matthews who slapped it by Schneider. Matthews has six two goal games under Keefe.
An aggressive Tyson Barrie costs the Leafs with eight minutes remaining. He came deep into the offensive zone to get a shot on Schneider. Nikita Gusev took the puck off the rebound and was two on one with Coleman versus Martin Marincin. Gusev pulled in Marincin and made a nice sauce pass to a streaking Coleman who beat Anderson for his second of the game.
A hat trick for Coleman wasn’t far behind. Travis Dermott tied him up to the left of Anderson who was sliding out of position. Coleman outmuscled Dermott and made no mistake for his first career hat trick.
Some scary times to close the game.
Two Leafs penalties and an empty net ment down 6-3 the Devils went six on three. A classic PK Subban one timer made it 6-4. He was fed at the blueline by Jesper Bratt and Subban slapped it shortside on Anderson.
Matthews got a hattrick of his own putting the puck in the empty net. His first three goal game since his NHL debut in 2016 when he scored four. Matthews 34th puts him just two behind David Pastrnak for the NHL lead. Despite a scary ending that was the final. Leafs beat the Devils 7-4.
Next up, Thursday versus the Calgary Flames who have won five of their last six contests.