The Toronto Maple Leafs picked up another two points on Tuesday night with an impressive 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings in Toronto. It was their second victory in a row and their third in five games – moving them back into one of the top three spots in the Atlantic Division for the time being.
While there was a lot of good to come from this game, there are a few things that – as always – are worth noting moving forward in the 2019-20 season for the blue and white. With that, here’s a look at some of the takeaways from Tuesday night’s affair.
Putting Their Best Kerfoot Forward
Down a goal, it was the Maple Leafs depth forwards that – once again – got the team on the board. This time, in the form of Alexander Kerfoot’s fifth goal of the season. While Kerfoot finished the play by putting the puck in the back of the net, it was the team’s hard forechecking that created the opportunity in the first place.
A hard check into the end boards by Nick Shore, followed by a stick check by Frederik Gauthier and the Kings turned the puck over just outside of their own blue line. Enter Kerfoot.
The 25-year-old walked the puck back into the Kings’ zone and just like that it was a tie game. On top of the goal, Kerfoot had three takeaways in the game, no giveaways and was rewarded with 1:33 of power play time.
Turnovers, Turnovers, Turnovers
It’s the best thing in hockey if you can have more than the number of team giveaways. While that wasn’t exactly the case on Tuesday for the Maple Leafs, they did come out on the favourable end of a number of turnovers by the Kings.
The Maple Leafs had 14 giveaways throughout the game, with the Kings having given up the puck just 10 times. However, the Kings’ lost pucks proved to be costly leading to all three Maple Leafs goals in a pretty direct form.
The Kerfoot goal came off a turnover just outside the blue line – as was mentioned previously. The Auston Matthews goal – the Maple Leafs’ second tally – came off a chance in which the Kings couldn’t gain possession in front of their own net and the William Nylander goal was a direct result of a Kings’ neutral zone turnover.
But the Maple Leafs play didn’t stop there. A game that was played at a high-pace, saw the Maple Leafs find ways of breaking out of their own zone with regularity and in a clean, organized way. It’s something that the team has been working towards all season long – finding ways to get the play going up ice without the defensive-zone mistakes.
That was the case on Tuesday. Had it not been for a weird bounce – with the Kings on the power play nonetheless – the Maple Leafs might’ve escaped this contest unscathed and Frederik Andersen might’ve had his first shutout of the season.
The Great Dane
Speaking of Andersen, the Maple Leafs goaltender had yet another solid performance with 24 saves on 25 shots. He finished the game with a .960 save percentage and gave up just one goal – which came on the power play and off a bounce from the end boards.
While the Maple Leafs have struggled a bit with consistency this season, the 30-year-old Andersen certainly hasn’t posting a record of 8-2-2 in his 12 games so far to start the season. That includes a .908 save percentage and a 2.84 goals against average while having faced the sixth most shots among goaltenders this season.
Matthews Keeps Rolling
The Maple Leafs 22-year-old star kept his season going on Tuesday with another two-point performance against the Kings. Matthews scored his 12th goal of the season midway through the third period to give the Maple Leafs the lead and it would go down as the eventual winner. He added an assist on the Nylander goal, his 100th career regular season assist and his 18th point of the year.
His 18 points put him into eighth in the league after Tuesday night and third in goals behind only David Pastrnak (15) and Leon Draisaitl (13).
The goal and the assist also kept Matthews on pace for a career year. If it were to continue, Matthews could finish the year with 61 goals and 92 points, assuming he played all 82 games. Now, that being said, we all know the ups and downs of the NHL season and won’t hold him to those totals just yet.
Also Worth Noting…
John Tavares returned on Tuesday night after missing seven games for the Maple Leafs. He played 18 minutes with just over three minutes of power play time and won 67 percent of his draws. He had two blocked shots and definitely looked a little rusty missing an open net on one of the Maple Leafs’ power plays.
Jake Muzzin played his former club for the first time as a Maple Leaf. He was all over the ice with just over a minute on the power play, two minutes of shorthanded time and 22 minutes total. He also had two blocks and four hits against his former mates.
Nic Petan got into the lineup after a long stint without a game. He played just under 13 minutes and saw almost two minutes of power play time. This is all coming with reports out that the Maple Leafs are looking to shop the speedy forward.
Finally, the Maple Leafs special teams struggled again on Tuesday. They went 0-for-4 on the power play and gave up a power play goal to the Kings of just three opportunities. That will have to change if the Maple Leafs want to continue to collect wins moving forward.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.