3 Takeaways From Maple Leafs’ 3-2 Win Over Senators – 10/15/22

Well, it didn’t come easy, but following the news that they would be without goaltender Matt Murray for four weeks that came down during morning skate, the Toronto Maple Leafs went out and took home a win against their division rival Ottawa Senators.

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Once again, the start fell on the shoulders of Ilya Samsonov and while the Maple Leafs were dealing with the repercussions of the Murray injury, Erik Källgren was added to the roster as a replacement from the Toronto Marlies.

Toronto Maple Leafs Takeaways

Still, there was a game to play on Saturday night. While the Maple Leafs should’ve still had an easier time with the Senators, it came down to an offensive push by one of the Maple Leafs most unlikely defenceman, some poor rebound control from Anton Forsberg and a second-chance goal for the Maple Leafs to squeak by with a 3-2 victory for their second win of the season. With that, here are three takeaways from the Maple Leafs one-goal win.

Samsonov Still Shaky But Still Winning Games

Two starts in and two wins for Samsonov. In fact, he’s stopped 50 of 54 shots thus far which seems to be promising for the Maple Leafs, right? Well, it’s not that simple. After two weaker goals against the Washington Capitals on Thursday, Samsonov lost the puck late in the third in a scramble in front of his net.

The puck squeaked out to the right side of the Maple Leafs netminder and Claude Giroux put it in to tie the game with just over five minutes left in the contest.

That said, he did look a little more confident than he had in his previous outing which is good news for the Maple Leafs. Especially now that he will be their starter going forward until Murray can return from his injury.

The Senators finished with 10 high-danger shots on Samsonov at even strength and he was able to stop nine of them — with the Giroux goal the only opportunity that got by him. Overall, he had a .958 save percentage (SV%) at even strength on Saturday, with the Shane Pinto goal to open the scoring coming on the power play midway through the first.

Tavares Continues to Lead the Way Offensively

How can there be any hate left for John Tavares? Even after missing some time in camp due to injury, Tavares is off to a hot start for the Maple Leafs with a goal and four points in his first three games this season.

Let’s not forget that last season there were some calling for his head because of the contract he was signed to and yet his close to a point-per-game pace still ranked him fourth on the team in points during the regular season in 2021-22 at the age of 31.

Related: Maple Leafs’ Malgin Could Be Solution at Second-Line Left Wing

Now, while it’s only three games into the season, Tavares is leading the charge for the Maple Leafs offensively with four points, including a secondary assist on William Nylander’s power play goal in the third period to put the Maple Leafs up 2-1.

It doesn’t mean much this early in the season, Tavares is on pace for a career-high in points if he can continue this pace and stay healthy (yes, I know it’s early). As for career points, he’s just 12 points shy of 900 for his career following his assist on Saturday.

If you’re still not sold on his offence, he was also 62.5 percent on the draws against the Senators — winning 10 of his 16 face-offs Saturday night.

Maple Leafs’ Depth and Defence Come Through

Once again, the top line weren’t the goal producers in this one for the Maple Leafs, but even with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner not notching the goals, the team was able to escape with the win thanks in large part to some key depth scoring from the bottom six and the backend.

Coming off a career year with the Maple Leafs in which he played in all 82 games and finished with 11 goals and 26 points, David Kämpf scored his first of the season tipping it past Forsberg with just seconds to play in the second period.

It was just his 29th career goal, but it came at a key point in the game very much like he did last season with the opportunities he was given.

As mentioned, the game-winner was scored with less than two minutes left by an unlikely source in Justin Holl. Quite possibly his best game of the season to this point, Holl played nearly 21 minutes with three shots, a hit and a blocked shot.

On top of that, he made a good pinch inside the offensive zone late in the third period and followed up a Michael Bunting opportunity by swinging at the rebound given up by Forsberg and getting it past the Senators’ goalie for the eventual winner.

Justin Holl Toronto Maple Leafs
Justin Holl, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Both of these are key as the Maple Leafs will need both their depth and contributions from their back end if they are going to make noise this year past the first round. As for Holl, let’s hope the early offensive start can lead to some defensive growth for a player that struggled in his own end last season.

Maple Leafs Back in Action Monday Against the Coyotes

Both Samsonov and the Maple Leafs will get a day off on Sunday to regroup, but they will be back in action on Monday as they look for another win against a team that should be beatable for the star-studded lineup as the Coyotes roll into town.

The Maple Leafs will have some choices to make as Murray going on LTIR opened up some space for the team to bring up some more skaters. That could include Nick Robertson, Wayne Simmonds or Victor Mete.

As for who will take the net on Monday, Samsonov seems like the obvious choice as Sheldon Keefe noted he’s a guy on a mission, but it was also noted that Källgren will get some work while Murray is out.

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