If you believe the players on the surface, this game was just another chance to claim two points on Hockey Night in Canada. If you believe the announcers, this was a tectonic event that could have been a precursor to this summer’s Stanley Cup Final.
And in fact, the excitement on Saturday in between Toronto Maple Leafs And Edmonton Oilers Rising above all expectations, the regular season classic lifted the monotony of the 65-game The Maple Leafs came away winning 7-4.
Mitch Marner was eliminated from the marquee, a contest heralded as a showdown between the Hart Trophy winner and his teammate. Austin Mathews And the presumptive unanimous favorite for this year’s Connor McDavid. Marner has been the Maple Leafs’ MVP this season, and with the Leafs trailing 3-1 on the season, he picked a wayward player. Ryan MacLeod Passing, dangling Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner from his pads and reawakened a sleeping giant With a very amazing goal.
just moments later, Marner caught another pass and found it William Nylander With an exhilarating feed before Nylander finished with five holes for Skinner to tie the game, Scotiabank Arena achieved an unheard of decibel level this season.
After a brief period, Founded by Austin Matthews John Tavares to give Toronto the lead – capping it off with three goals in three minutes with the Leafs. Marner’s mark was felt again just minutes later when he stole the attention of three Oilers defenders, deflecting a pass Ryan Nugent HopkinsHe “skated on the ice and on Tavares’ stick” to score his second straight goal of the competition – Marner’s third point in the span of six minutes – as the game winner.
In a contest filled with the world’s best players and future Hall of Famers–including two teenage prodigies-turned captains with identical routes to the NHL–Marner shined brightest.
McDavid and the Oilers pushed the Maple Leafs to the limit on this one, but with Marner’s leadership, the Leafs rose from the dead.
Here’s everything else you need to know from the thriller Saturday in Toronto.
1) Mitch Marner, Maple Leafs
Marner’s second-half goal breathed life into a lethargic Maple Leafs offense, and was the focal point of everything his team did well on Saturday — Toronto scored three goals in three minutes to take an indomitable lead, and it wouldn’t have started without Marner. Play heads-up.
“It steals it, it anticipates it, and then it’s all in one move to make the goalkeeper bite. It’s really impressive,” Tavares said of Marner’s goal after the game.
Along with the game-changing tag, Marner caught three base passes, while working tirelessly to intercept passes and recover pucks, As he often does. Similar to Matthews and McDavid, the Oilers’ defense began to panic nearly every time Marner touched the puck after the first period. Outstanding performer, with plenty of competition for the top spot.
“He’s very smart,” Matthews said of Marner after the game. “A high-level player like that, you kind of think about what other players expect. Especially when you play like he did.”
2) John Tavares, Maple Leafs
If Marner starts the Maple Leafs offense, Tavares may have had the best run of the season. Tavares outplayed McDavid and got better with each turn as the game progressed. The Toronto captain notched up his first two goals after being stripped Darnell Nurse, then proceeded to storm into a clear firing lane. Matthews found Tavares in full stride and Stuart Skinner had no chance.
Tavares’ silk gloves once again paid off for the man advantage, redirecting a errant feed from Marner like a pinball machine for his second goal of the evening. He also recorded an assist on Matthews’ third-period power play goal on a clean three-point night. Again, this is why Tavares wears a C.
3) Noel AccariMaple Leafs
Acciari was awarded the team belt, awarded to the team’s most valuable player after each win. He was an absolute wrecking ball, scoring the first goal of the game, while adding an unassisted tally in the final minute of the game. Since joining the Maple Leafs in a deal with the Blues, he has completely reinvigorated the fourth line, providing the requisite toughness his club needs to advance into the postseason. Akyari finished with five strokes. He also scored six shots and that aforementioned goal. Scoring, tenacity, physicality – get a guy who can do it all.
“I thought Noel Acciari was incredible in every way. He scored, defended physically and created scoring opportunities. He was excellent,” said Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe.
honorific: Austin Matthews, Maple Leafs (one goal, two points, four shots, 60% in face-ups, on the ice for five goals)
Bunting isn’t all bad but he no longer plays like the player who was a fixture in the Maple Leafs’ top six. Playing against inferior competition, Bunting failed to make an impact, other than standing up Evander Kane As both players got double unders for roughing up after a spirited game. He had the worst base numbers of any Maple Leafs player on Saturday night by some distance. We wouldn’t go so far as to say his confidence was paid off, but he certainly can play better than he did against the Oilers.
Play the game:
Marner’s target could easily have been here instead. We can do Also went with a goal by Conor McDavid. But given the context of the game, Tavares’ 2-on-1 conversion from Auston Matthews nearly brought home the Scotiabank Arena and completely sucked the life out of the Oilers, who resorted to plays in the third period.
Tavares wins the puck from the Oilers’ best defenseman, Darnell Nurse, Matthews trapping the puck and finding Tavares in step. The rest is history. And again, look at how happy Tavares was after that.
Game launch error:
Given Marner’s incredible finish quality, it’s a little unfair to put this in the wrong section, but there’s no other choice. Edmonton’s Ryan McLeod put the puck on the tee for Marner right in front of the net. Marner then chose to dance around Stuart Skinner for a highlight reel target. As stunned as Marner’s tight handles were, the goal was MacLeod’s fault and he awakened a dormant Maple Leafs volcano in frame two.
“Those things, they seem like a big mistake, but they don’t happen by accident, especially when there’s a guy like Mitch. He’s reading that play, he’s in the right place,” Keefe said of Marner’s goal after the game.
Night ladies: John Tavares reached the 30-goal mark for the sixth time in his career, while Auston Matthews reached the 30-goal plateau for the seventh consecutive season. It’s a testament to the remarkable consistency both No. 1 picks have shown overall. Both Tavares and Matthews have weathered the illogical hype surrounding them to get into the league, which is a testament to their overall status in the NHL.
Oilers backup goaltender Jack Campbell He returned to Toronto, albeit on the bench. Campbell held court with reporters during his morning skate, reflecting fondly on his time with the Maple Leafs. He was showered with “SOUP” chants during an intermission in the first period and waved to the fans in attendance.
Quote from the night:
“He didn’t play defense. Excitement isn’t what I’d say. He’s a fantastic talent who’s obviously playing at the top of his game. There’s an element of you enjoying watching him as a guy who enjoys watching hockey, and I enjoy watching highlights. It’s great to see him.” – Morgan Riley John Tavares called Connor McDavid exciting to play against.