Sports: Maple Leafs’ power-play woes nearly cost them win vs. Golden Knights - - PressFrom - Canada
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Sports Maple Leafs’ power-play woes nearly cost them win vs. Golden Knights

17:06  08 november  2019
17:06  08 november  2019 Source:   sportsnet.ca

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Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews (34) celebrates his power play goal against Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Malcolm Subban. Toronto had scored just twice on the power play in the nine games before Thursday — a stretch that coincided with the absence of captain John Tavares

Toronto Maple Leafs centre John Tavares (91) celebrates his game winning goal against Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Malcolm Subban during Toronto, which went nearly 15 minutes between shots on goal from the end of the first and into the second, got its third and fourth power plays of the

a group of baseball players that are standing in front of a crowd: matthews-maple-leafs-vegas-celebration© Nathan Denette/CP matthews-maple-leafs-vegas-celebration

TORONTO — Enough was finally enough.

The Toronto Maple Leafs power play should be a source of strength given the enviable array of scoring talent at its disposal, not an energy-zapping drag that draws boos on home ice.

That’s why it was so important that the Leafs found themselves with a television timeout immediately before their sixth crack at the man advantage on Thursday. It bought a group stuck in a 2-for-32 rut another 90-plus seconds to catch their breath and clear their minds. It gave them a chance to adjust on the fly.

When the five players on the $42-million top unit huddled together at the bench — Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Mitch Marner, Morgan Rielly and Andreas Johnsson — they basically decided to throw caution to the wind.

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Tavares said Andersen (37 saves) deserved all three stars of the game, noting his stopping all 12 Knights arrows on the penalty kill, which dipped into overtime due to what could’ve been a costly too-many-men foul. Maple Leafs ' power play woes nearly cost them win vs . Golden Knights .

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“We pretty much said ‘What do we have to lose? Let’s move around, let’s get the penalty kill kind of thinking more’ and I thought we did a really good job of that,” said Matthews. “Different guys going into different areas and just reacting and playing off our instincts. Not just drawing up plays, but reacting off one another and then using each other.”

It’s basically came down to the difference between doing and thinking.

Reacting, rather than reading from a script.

The primary goal of Toronto’s top unit is to create open looks for Matthews, but there are many ways to accomplish that. Matthews felt they had grown a little too stagnant with him basically camped out on the right flank during their first five power plays against Vegas, which is why he and Tavares briefly swapped spots once they established offensive zone possession on the sixth one.

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John Tavares scored the overtime winner and Frederik Andersen made 37 saves and the Montreal Canadiens beat the Vegas Golden Knights 2-1.

Matthews then floated into the left circle, held the puck in at the left point, zipped around behind the goal and had two shots at Golden Knights goaltender Malcolm Subban before he tucked a shot off the crossbar and in.

All of that freelancing crossed up the Vegas penalty killers — which entered the night with the NHL’s second most effective unit. It gave the Leafs the window they needed to tie the score on another night where they appeared destined to squander a tight game.

“A little bit’s reading off one another, create some movement and cause [some doubt on] those split-second decisions. They got caught kind of in-between and that’s when you’re able to isolate someone or get someone open,” said Tavares. “Especially Matty’s the guy we want to get the puck to, obviously.

“Glad it worked out and a hell of a shot.”

It was the second straight game where Matthews delivered a big goal after scoring the winner against Los Angeles late in the third period on Tuesday. His laser beam over Subban’s shoulder came at 8:14 of the final frame and set the stage for a Tavares overtime winner in a 2-1 final against the Golden Knights.

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Pittsburgh defencemen John Marino and Brian Dumoulin helped set up the play. Rust and Malkin followed up McCann’s goal with scores of their own as the Penguins wiped out their three-goal deficit in 7:10. Maple Leafs ' power play woes nearly cost them win vs . Golden Knights .

Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock became the eighth coach in NHL history to reach 700 wins . Auston Matthews scored, and Frederik Andersen made 37 saves for Toronto Matthews tied it 1-1 at 8:14 on Toronto's sixth power play of the game when he shot over Subban's glove from the right face-off dot.

This was a tightly played affair between teams with big aspirations, and the Leafs leaned heavily on goaltender Frederik Andersen.

For a time, it appeared as if their ongoing power-play struggles were going to be the story. Toronto enjoyed some good puck movement during two first-period opportunities with the man advantage, but lost its way on the two it received in the middle frame.

Simply entering the zone — normally a power-play strength for the Leafs, according to data tracked by SportLogiq — became difficult.

Some fans grew restless and even booed.

“We had some real good looks, we had some real good power plays that didn’t score,” said Mike Babcock. “And then we had a couple that were hard to watch.”

The Leafs coach had maintained that they’d be OK in that department even though they entered the game sitting 20th in power play efficiency at 17.3 per cent. He didn’t see the need for a massive overhaul or change in approach.

A big part of that confidence had to come from having a healthy Tavares.

The captain missed eight of the nine games where Toronto went on a 2-for-27 run with the man advantage because of a broken finger and shot high on a wide open net during a power play in his return on Tuesday.

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Ottawa won both meetings last season against Los Angeles and for the second time in franchise history the team has defeated the Kings in three consecutive games. 42 minutes ago. Maple Leafs ' power play woes nearly cost them win vs . Golden Knights .

Once the toughest ticket in town, the Flyers played at a Wells Fargo Center thousands of fans short of a sellout. Rage rooms and Gritty and fancy cocktails haven’t gotten fans to turn out for a team that hasn’t won a playoff Maple Leafs ' power play woes nearly cost them win vs . Golden Knights .

In fact, the SportLogiq data shows that the Tavares/Marner/Matthews/Johnsson/Rielly unit is the NHL’s fourth most effective in goals per 20 minutes played this season.

Still, they needed a breakthrough moment to restore some confidence on a night where Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant felt there were too many penalties called on both sides. The Matthews goal seemed to stem some frustration and offer a path forward for that talent-rich top unit.

“With the skill we have, I think if we move around in the O-zone when we have a power-play chance it’s going to screw a lot of penalty kills up,” said Marner. “I think that’s what kind of gave us our opportunity there, is we had guys kind of running all over the place.

“We were moving the puck well and we were moving bodies around and it resulted in a goal.”

Credit the extra break they had before with an extra assist on the goal. The pressure had been mounting.

“That’s what we said before the power play there, ‘C’mon, lighten up here fellas. Let’s just go out there and breathe a little bit and do what we’re supposed to do,”’ said Babcock.

Maple Leafs recall Kaskisuo, Petan from AHL .
The Toronto Maple Leafs have recalled goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo and forward Nic Petan from the AHL's Toronto Marlies, the team announced Tuesday. Kaskisuo is slated to fill in the backup role behind starter Frederik Andersen after Michael Hutchinson was placed on waivers Monday. The 26-year-old Finland native is 6-1-1 in eight starts with the Marlies this season with a .928 save percentage. He could make his first NHL start as early as Saturday as Toronto travels to Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins in the second half of a back-to-back. Petan was waived by the Leafs last week but went unclaimed.

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