A couple nights after blowing a third period lead after a dominant start against the East’s top team, the Leafs… held onto a third period lead against the West’s top team. Not a bad way to close out the trip, honestly.
The Leafs pushed the pace early, scored four goals in quick succession, then laid back a little bit and let Nashville push back. We’ll take it.
Who else, honestly? The hottest man in the NHL right now with his 34th of the season.
After one, the Leafs would take a 1-0 lead and hold Nashville to a measly one shot at even strength.
Viktor Arvidsson beat Andersen on a slick wrister, and Nashville got themselves back in the game temporarily.
And then, for the first time in March 2018, Auston Matthews scored an NHL goal.
We really, really missed this guy.
William Nylander would add another off a weird bounce, and the Leafs were suddenly getting closer to cruise control.
The Leafs also took three penalties this period, to go along with two in the first and another one in the third. Somehow, it didn’t matter much, as they’d give up just one power play goal. But Kevin Fiala took a late penalty in this frame…
Third period checklist:
- Start the period on a power play
- Give the puck to Mitch Marner
Just nine seconds into the third period, Mitch hits 20 and scores $212k for himself by reaching a contract bonus. Not bad, buddy.
Jake Gardiner scored his fifth of the season on a rocket of a shot to give the Leafs a four-goal lead, and well, that was pretty much it.
If you need a negative from this game, at one point, Tomas Plekanec totally buster’ed up a 3-on-1, as the Leafs failed to get a shot attempt off of it.
Scott Hartnell added a late marker to make it 5-2, but really, it didn’t do much. Very solid performance from the Leafs against the league’s top team, and now they’ve got a magic number of just six points until they clinch a playoff spot.
A quote from the man himself:
Auston Matthews: "I felt fine out there. Got engaged early, got the puck, able to make a couple plays & that kind of builds your confidence for the rest of the game."
— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) March 23, 2018
The best prediction of the night.
JVR scores is 34th, #34 Matthews scores his 29th, #29 Nylander scores his 16th… Marner next to score?
— John Clark (@JohnClarkATS) March 23, 2018
This, from earlier today:
The Office intro…..but for the Toronto Maple Leafs pic.twitter.com/S8nhcSp9lO
— Juno (@junotheleafs) March 22, 2018
The Leafs take on the Red Wings Saturday. See you then.