Post-Game Analysis: Leafs Overcome Adversity in 4-3 Victory Over Devils

Maple Leafs Auston Matthews,Mitch Marner and Mark Giordano Celebrate Goal in Corner
Maple Leafs Auston Matthews,Mitch Marner and Mark Giordano Celebrate Goal in Corner Photo credit: Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the New Jersey Devils 4-3 on Tuesday night! The blue and white were without New Trade Deadline acquisitions such as Ryan O’Reilly and Luke Schenn in a game that also didn’t have John Tavares. Yet the Maple Leafs still overcame adversity, beating one of the league’s best on home ice in New Jersey. 

In the opening period, both sides started off quickly, but the New Jersey Devils got a fantastic opportunity early. A New Jersey 2-on-1 rush saw forward Jesper Bratt play a back-door feed to Jack Hughes but was absolutely robbed by Maple Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov. The 26-year-old goaltender was just able to get across, denying the opportunity using his athleticism. 

After almost connecting for a beautiful goal, the New Jersey Devils didn’t stop there. The home side was absolutely coming in waves at Maple Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov. However, as many opportunities as the Devils did create, they just couldn’t beat the Maple Leaf goaltender. The New Jersey Devils closed out the opening twenty, leading the shot totals 15-5. 

Once the middle frame was underway, it was the Toronto Maple Leafs who now dominated. After really testing Devils goaltender Vitek Vanecek in the opening minutes of the second period, the Leafs finally got on the board. This time scoring for the blue and white was forward Calle Järnkrok. The 31-year-old forward finished a beautiful feed from Leafs star William Nylander who took the puck on his backhand and played a pass across the Devils goaltender, catching Vitek Vanecek out of position. 

Once the Maple Leafs took a 1-0 lead, it wasn’t long until the New Jersey Devils tied it up. A loose puck was available in the slot for Devils forward Erik Haula, who made no mistake finishing his chance. This was Haula’s 6th goal of the season as the New Jersey Devils leveled the game with only 3:14 remaining in the second.

Once the third period kicked off, the New Jersey Devils were rewarded with an early powerplay chance. On the man advantage, Leafs star Mitch Marner picked a puck off newly acquired Devil Timo Meier leading to a breakaway opportunity. Mitch Marner came in flying on the Devils goaltender, going inside, then coming around for an absolutely beautiful goal. This was Mitch Marner’s 23rd goal of the season, giving the blue and white the lead early in the final frame.

Right after Mitch Marner showed his impressive hands, New Jersey Devils forward Ondrej Palat showed some of his own. On the Devils powerplay, the 31-year-old forward scored an elite goal in tight, tying the game up at two a piece. This was Palat’s 8th goal of the season for New Jersey, and was it ever a clutch one.

After the game was tied once again, the New Jersey Devils captured the momentum leading to the team’s third goal. A weird shot from Devils forward Ondrej Palat was redirected off the stick of teammate Erik Haula. This was Erik Haula’s second of the game and seventh on the season for the New Jersey Devils. It was an odd goal, but it put New Jersey ahead 3-2 with 10:58 remaining.

Once the New Jersey Devils looked like it would be their night, it was quickly stolen away after a beautiful play by Maple Leafs defenseman Justin Holl and forward David Kampf setting up linemate Michael Bunting for the goal. This was Michael Bunting’s 20th goal of the season, finishing a beautiful back-door pass from David Kampf. The blue and white tied the game with only 4:50 to go. 

Once Michael Bunting scored, the Maple Leafs stole the momentum back, leading to a powerplay chance. As the Maple Leafs top powerplay unit stepped onto the ice, Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews scored a vintage Matthews snipe with only 2:53 remaining. The Maple Leafs goal scorer found space in the slot, punishing the New Jersey Devils late. 

Once the Maple Leafs took the lead late, thanks to Auston Matthews, the New Jersey Devils tried to send this one to overtime but were unsuccessful. This was a massive win for the blue and white, who were forced to play without tons of talent. The group now sits second in the Atlantic Division with a record of 39-17-8. The Maple Leafs next game will come at home against Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers. 

Thanks for reading! For more Leafs content, follow me on Twitter at ITR_Anselmo.

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Joshua Anselmo

A hockey mind that's always looking at new and insightful ways to bring different perspectives of the game we all love.

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