Coming into this one, the Leafs defeated the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night in a wild 6-5 overtime game. At the same time, the Jets were defeated by the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 on Tuesday. The pace of this game was evident very early on, and it would continue throughout the first period. Bobby McMann made his presence felt in the opening minutes of the game as he laid a big hit to get the crowd going. Both teams traded chances back and forth through the first seven minutes. However, the Jets would eventually tilt the ice in their favor as they absolutely dominated the Leafs all over the ice, but Ilya Samsonov played unbelievably. The Jets earned the first power play of the game as Timothy Liljegren was called for delay of game at the 10:14 mark. The Jets peppered Samsonov during the man advantage but full credit to Samsonov, who held his ground and shut the door every time. The Leafs were given their first power play of the game as Pierre-Luc Dubois was called for hooking Bobby McMann at 15:40. The top unit stayed out for the majority of the man advantage. Still, they could not generate much of anything with just a single shot on goal. Shots on goal after the opening 20 minutes were 16-6 for the Jets, just a dominant period by Winnipeg.
While the Jets dominated the majority of the play in the opening period, it took Auston Matthews just eight seconds into the second period to open the scoring in this one. He made Mark Scheifele look like an absolute fool at the Jets’ blue line then he fired his 23rd of the year past Connor Hellebuyck. Matthews wasted minimal time scoring again as he ripped home his 24th of the year and second of the game just 3:39 after his first goal from a fantastic feed from Michael Bunting. The game found another gear after the 2-0 goal as the pace got faster. After giving themselves a 2-0 lead, the Leafs played some fantastic team defense. He was not giving the Jets any time or space to create much of anything offensively. The Jets were given their second power play as Rasmus Sandin was called for tripping Pierre-Luc Dubois at 13:26. You could argue that Blake Wheeler tripped Sandin first, which led to Sandin falling and tripping Dubois. It was safe to say that Sheldon Keefe was not a fan of the call. Nevertheless, the Leafs didn’t pout, as Mitch Marner stole the puck from Mark Scheifele and went the other way, and he absolutely ripped it bar down for his 17th of the year less than 30 seconds into the Jets man advantage, making it 3-0 and extending his home point streak to 20 games. The Leafs managed to kill off the remainder of the man advantage, but the Jets did generate two shots on goal. Samsonov continued his stellar play in this one as he made 26 saves on 26 shots through 40 minutes of play. Shots on goal in the second period were even at ten
2:12 into the third period, the Leafs were called for a bench minor due to too many men giving the Jets their third power play of the game. Twenty-seven seconds into the man advantage Kyle Connor displayed his fantastic patience but was not to be outdone as Samsonov flashed the leather to rob him point blank. With 1:12 remaining in the power play Mark Giordano was called for tripping on Pierre Luc-Dubois, giving the Jets a five on three. Samsonov made a couple of ten-bell saves, but unfortunately, the Jets eventually broke through as Kyle Connor scored his 23rd of the year, making it a 3-1 game. That goal went straight to the Jets’ legs, and they dominated the Leafs for a couple of shifts following the goal, but Samsonov continued his unbelievable play in this one! With just over nine minutes remaining in regulation, Pierre Engvall managed to generate a chance in the offensive zone. He managed to beat Hellebuyck, but it rang straight off the post and out. Liljegren was hit up high from a point shot that he didn’t see coming, and he stayed down and did not get up. Play was stopped, and eventually, Liljegren would leave the ice under his own power, but he looked to be in a considerable amount of pain. The Jets continued to throw everything they had at the Leafs, but Samsonov continued his stellar play. To say this felt like a statement game from Samsonov would be an understatement, to say the least. Also worth noting how dominant of a game Auston Matthews had as well, at both ends of the rink. Unfortunately for the Leafs, Timothy Liljegren did not return to this one, here’s to hoping it’s nothing serious, as he is a crucial part of the Leafs’ blue line. The Jets elected to pull Hellebuyck for the extra attacker with three minutes remaining in regulation. Mark Giordano collected the puck in front of the Leafs net and made no mistake hitting the middle of the empty net giving the Leafs a 4-1 lead with 2:27 to go. The Leafs would run out the remainder of the clock and hang on for the 4-1 victory. An outstanding performance by Ilya Samsonov as well as Auston Matthews. Shots on goal in the third period were 12-11 for the Jets and 38-27 for Winnipeg overall. In this one, the TOI leader for the blue and white was Justin Holl, with 24:44.
Tonight’s Three Stars:
1. Auston Matthews – 2 Goals
2. Ilya Samsonov – 37 Saves
3. Michael Bunting – 2 Assists
The Leafs are off to Montreal, where they will square off against the Canadiens on Saturday night. Leafs vs. Habs? On Saturday night? Hockey Night in Canada? Sign me up!
For more Leafs news and in-game tweets, follow me on Twitter @mikethefanatic! Also, be sure to check out The Leafs Late Night Podcast wherever you listen to your podcasts!