The Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the New York Rangers 3-2 last night in New York! Despite being on the road for the third straight game, the blue and white put together a solid effort closing out the regular season on the right foot. After tonight’s victory, the group won its fiftieth game of the season, tallying a total of one-hundred and eleven points, clinching second place in the Atlantic Division.
In the opening period of this one, both sides came out ready to go! After a few chances early were turned aside by Leafs goaltender Joseph Woll, the blue and white began to find their groove. The 24-year-old Leafs goaltender was strong early again, keeping the game tied. As the period progressed, both teams began creating more and more chances, but neither side could beat the clock. The Maple Leafs and New York Rangers were tied at zero heading into the second period.
Once the middle frame was underway, it was the New York Rangers who capitalized early. Only 1:38 into the second period, Rangers forward Kaapo Kakko scored his seventeenth of the season. After Maple Leafs defenseman Justin Holl mishandled a pass from teammate William Nylander, the Rangers took advantage of the opportunity, setting up Kaapo Kakko for a nifty back-handed goal. After the blue shirts went ahead, both sides started to play with more urgency, but Rangers goaltender Jaroslav Halak kept his composure. The score was 1-0 New York heading into the third period.
Kicking off the third period with a bang, the Toronto Maple Leafs started strong early, which eventually led to the team’s opening goal. Maple Leafs defenseman Timothy Liljegren scored his sixth of the season, only 3:09 into the third. Shortly after the game was tied, the New York Rangers bounced right back, scoring their second. This time for the Rangers was Artemi Panarin, who scored his twenty-ninth of the season. The “Breadman” fired an absolute rocket just over the shoulder of the Maple Leafs goaltender on the powerplay.
Just when things looked like it wasn’t going to go the Maple Leafs way tonight. Leafs star William Nylander was finally able to beat Rangers goaltender Jaroslav Halak for his fortieth of the season. After coming so close throughout the game, the 26-year-old finally achieved his milestone in a crucial situation. Obviously, this game didn’t mean much, but achieving that number and tying the game was pretty cool. The Maple Leafs forward has received his fair share of criticism over his Leafs tenure, making this season even more special for William Nylander. Regardless of what you think about the 26-year-old, the 2014 first-round pick proved in 2022-23 that he’s an elite winger.
Once the game was tied yet again, the Maple Leafs kept buzzing for a third, but the Rangers goaltender stood tall. As the Rangers started to pick up the momentum again, Leafs goaltender Joseph Woll was able to continue his good run of form, holding the game at a tie. However, after some timely saves by Joseph Woll, Maple Leafs forward Noel Acciari came clutch with the game-winning goal. The 31-year-old followed up on his own rebound, tipping the puck just through the five-hole of Jaroslav Halak. After the Maple Leafs went ahead late, the Rangers kept pressing and eventually scored at almost the final second of play, but it was eventually taken back. The Maple Leafs won this one 3-2, entering the playoffs on a four-game winning streak.
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