Leafs answer back the critics with a solid home win

Eduardo Harari
BarnBurner Sports Writer


Wednesday, October 16, 2019


TORONTO. - The Leafs are looking forth to a season of many records being broken including the conclusion of their drought in getting to the Cup final.

On Tuesday night many things went right for the organization and Leafs Nation. Lets start with the great play of Morgan Rielly and his tying of Rick Vaives' record.

Rielly had four assists in the second period, tying Vaive’s team record for most in a regular-season period. The bundle of helpers tied Rielly’s personal high for most in a game, done twice before, the most recent in a game last December against the Florida Panthers.

The humble defenseman was asked about his accomplishment and answered as always “Once again, no comment,” said Rielly. “It’s a lot of luck.”

 "I think we just talked about being patient [in the first intermission] and not trying to force too much. I thought we played a good first [and] obviously didn't get the results we wanted, but I thought we came out and just kind of stayed the course. We took advantage of some power-play opportunities and other than that, we played simple and went to work. It's good when we can stay patient like that." -- Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly

Many teammates weren't as humble with their comment:

“Any time you’re out there with him, just try to get open and he has the ability to make a pass or skate it himself, with his speed and his agility,” Matthews said. “You try to get open and get in lanes and let him dictate the play because he is really good at it.”

"Good for him; he's a good player and was much better defensively," Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said of Rielly. "He's always been good offensively. It's important he has good nights and feels good about himself. Any time your good players score and generate offense and that's what they like to do and they get feeling good, your team is better."

Rielly, who was awarded the player-of-the-game Raptors championship basketball for his fine evening, has nine assists in seven games to start the 2019-20 season.

Marner had a goal and two assists, and when he set up Matthews for a goal in the second period, it marked Marner’s first point of the season during five-on-five play.

"We wanted to get our power play going tonight; that was huge for our team," Marner said. "We stayed patient with our game plan, and that's something we have to keep going forward with."

Leafs coach Mike Babcock, changed his lines as a let’s see what happens night, moving Trevor Moore up to play with John Tavares and Marner, and dropping Kasperi Kapanen to the third line with Alex Kerfoot and Ilya Mikheyev.

“I’ve just been watching it and no one seemed to be going,” said Babcock, speaking in subdued tones as he tends to do after a Leafs victory. “We just tried it and it seemed to be OK, so we just stayed with it.”

While that adjustment came toward the end of the first, it seemed to give the Leafs some juice in the middle period.

Tavares scored his second of the season surprising Devan Dubnyk with a slapshot from a tough angle.

"Just the way the circumstances were and my instincts when I saw Mitch in front, it was just to shoot it then rather than carrying it in a bit more and giving the goalie time to recover," Tavares said. "I was able to put it in a good spot and Mitch gave me a great screen."

A pair of Leafs power-play goals, by Marner and Andreas Johnsson, followed.

Marner set up Matthews for his seventh goal of the season.

The Leafs, will face Washington on Wednesday and will try to remain perfect on the road against a tough Capitals team.