The Toronto Maple Leafs can win ugly. They are also resilient. They proved both with a come-from-behind (several times) overtime win against the Calgary Flames last night (Dec. 10). Granted, there were a few lucky bounces in the mix as well.
And, of course, William Nylander showed up with his best career-scoring game ever – five points on two goals and three assists. His previous career-high had been three points. He shattered that mark.
The Maple Leafs’ win extended their consecutive point-scoring streak to 14 games in a row (with an 11-0-3 record in those games). They’ll try to hit 15 straight games with a point against the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night.
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In this edition of Maple Leafs News & Rumors, I’ll look at some of the events from the game as well as some of the news emerging about Nick Robertson’s injury status.
Item One: Matt Murray Wasn’t Great, But He Was Good Enough
Chalk this game up to payback from the Maple Leafs’ skaters to their goalie after his outstanding performances this season. That was especially true after he set an NHL record by holding down the fort in a 4-0 shutout win against the Dallas Stars.
Although Murray might have been able to stop every goal he let in, last night it didn’t matter. The team covered for his mistakes. Every time the Flames took the lead, the Maple Leafs came back to tie it. Then, on the opening faceoff of the extra period, Jonathan Huberdeau smacked Rasmus Sandin with his stick to draw a penalty.
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That was the chance the team needed, and they capitalized on it. In the end, Murray saved 22 shots in the victory to ruin former-Maple Leafs’ Nazem Kadri’s night. Murray has now racked up a 7-0-2 record in his nine starts since his return from an abductor injury.
Item Two: William Nylander Records His Highest Point Total Ever
Nylander simply looks like a different player this season than in past seasons. He’s always been skilled. He’s always looked calm on the ice. But this season, he’s playing better defense. He also looks like he’s enjoying himself more.
I suppose, why shouldn’t he? He’s up to 17 goals on the season; and, given his pace, there’s a chance Nylander could hit 50. It isn’t outside the realm of possibility.
Last night, Nylander put up his new single-game, career-high point total by having a hand in every goal the Maple Leafs scored. Of his five points, he scored two goals and added three assists. [As NHL hockey fans probably know, William was born in Calgary when his father Michael played there. The elder Nylander was a forward there for five seasons.]
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Of Nylander’s five points, three came on the power play (one goal and two assists). Funny how things turn around. It wasn’t too long ago that he was one of the fans’ choices to move in a trade. Now he should be considered one of the NHL’s best wingers. His 17 goals tie him for seventh in the NHL this season with Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins) and Kirill Kaprizov (Minnesota Wild).
Item Three: Mitch Marner Extends His Streak to 22 Games
There were three streaks on the line last night. One was the team’s shutout streak of two games. The first Flames’ goal broke that streak at 129:13 without allowing a goal. The second was the team’s consecutive game streak with at least a point. The third was Mitch Marner’s personal point-scoring streak.
The Maple Leafs weren’t able to hold the Flames scoreless; however, they did extend the other two streaks. Marner pushed his consecutive-game streak to 22 games. He has totaled 30 points in those games by scoring 11 goals and adding 19 assists.
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Even better, Marner scored the game-winner 43 seconds into the overtime period. Congratulations to him for his performance. Overall, it wasn’t his best game; he committed a couple of costly turnovers – one that led to a Flames goal. Still, he was there when his team needed him the most.
What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?
There’s some good news and some bad news for the Maple Leafs regarding Nick Robertson. The bad news first: he’ll be out between six and eight weeks with a shoulder injury. The good news is that he won’t require surgery.
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The sad news is that Robertson has had such a streak of bad luck with injuries. Just when he was getting a chance to showcase his game on the team’s productive second line, he goes down yet again. He’ll be back probably just after the All-Star Game in February.
In the meantime, as head coach Sheldon Keefe notes, it’s next man up. The next man in this case will likely be Denis Malgin.