IG news Update,
William Nylander and John Tavares reunite. And if you like it.
Nylander had a four-point night — two goals, two assists, all in the second period — as the Maple Leafs overcame a slow start to beat the New York Islanders 5-2 on Monday night.
Tavares had a goal and an assist, while third wheeler Klay Jarnkrok scored the winner on the rebounding line.
Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said, “Willie has been great for us and he was outstanding in that second period tonight.” “He was really good.
“But I thought the second period was the best period John Tavares played all season. That’s going to Willie. Willie made chances and was really good, but I thought Tavares was outstanding. He played in the second period. led us.
Tavares scored for the first time in six games and finished with eight shots on net against his former team on a night that didn’t look like it was going to go the Leafs’ way. After a flat first period—the Leafs had just six shots and trailed 1–0—Keefe had right wing Nylander and Mitch Marner flip to the line.
“We had to change something,” Keefe said. “Well, we had to change a lot of things, but that was probably the biggest change. And what Mitch and Auston Mathews brought to the first innings, it was noticeable from that first innings itself. Life and energy and obviously John and (Nylander and Jarnkrok) have also joined and things are starting to come together for us.
Järnkrok’s winner was his 11th goal, one of the highest goals scored in the previous year. It was a bit wobbly on the breakaway.
“I had some momentum, and the puck was lined up on the sideline,” Jarnkrok said, adding the puck’s bobble made the shot unpredictable. “I was trying to hit the net. But if I don’t know where it’s going, the goalkeeper probably doesn’t know where it’s going either. So it worked out great.
Nylander is on a hot streak. He now has points in four straight games, with nine points in that span, and leads the Leafs with 26 goals. He crossed the 25-goal mark for the third time in his career.
He said, ‘I am trying to improve my game. “Every night, that’s what I’m trying to focus on doing. So it’s good to do it (offense) today.
Not to be outdone, Mathews scored as well. It was his 25th goal, a mark he has achieved in each of his seven seasons. Matthews has points in each of his last 10 games, and has six goals in his last six games.
Ilya Samsonov was strong in the Leafs net, which now appears to be his hot hand. He started his third consecutive game and made his fourth consecutive appearance (3–0–1).
“He’s earned it,” said Keefe. “The door opened for him in terms of us coming in relief (against Florida, 5-4 overtime win). He has done a really good job. He deserved better the second night in terms of result (a 3–2 overtime loss to Montreal). So I wanted to bring him back in.
Samsonov stopped 31 of 33 shots, but the play everyone was talking about was his pass to Nylander on the Islanders blue line during a power play that caught New York on a line change Was.
“That was a great pass,” Matthews said. “I didn’t know who it was going to because I was the guy coming back. Next thing I turn around and John is on the breakaway. Really good play. Just awesome.”
Nylander catches Tavares for a breakaway goal.
Tavares said, “I wasn’t expecting it, to be honest.” “I was happy I was back onside because (Samsonov) set it up very quickly. He has done this twice this year. His recognition and ability to zip it in there is great. You can say that he is involved in all aspects of the game. He’s ready, he’s competing and he’s making a difference.”
The Islanders won the first meeting between the two teams this season, a 3–2 overtime victory on November 21. They are in the running for a wild-card spot but come into Monday’s game with just two wins in their last 11 games, averaging just two goals in January.
“They’re a resilient group,” coach Len Lambert said of his Islanders. “It’s an unforgiving league. And there’s a fine line between winning and losing. We’ve been there every game and we just have to stay like that, stay the course and we’ll turn this thing around.
The Leafs have earned points against the Islanders in their last six meetings (5-0-1). Their third and final meeting of the season will be played on March 21 at the UBS Arena in Elmont, New York.
back to grind
The Islanders play a grinding, slow game. They have to, because they don’t have the offense other teams have. So it should come as no surprise that the first period was low scoring for both teams. There were long stretches without whistles, but very little was happening. The Leafs didn’t even make a shot until the midway mark of the first period. Anders Lee scored the first of his two goals to give New York a 1–0 lead.
Keefe allowed the players to talk among themselves at halftime.
“We had no life, no energy, no pace of execution,” Keefe said. “The first intermission gave us a chance to regroup, and I don’t think there was much to say other than to point out the obvious. It’s up to the players. They talked and, more importantly, the other way around and came out more focused, way more life and more energy than the drop of the puck
The second period was the Leafs’ best all season. They came into the game with 24 more goals than their opponents during the long changeover period, the second best differential in the league. And after Keefe put Nylander back in with Tavares, the Leafs clicked into motion to take a 4–2 lead.
Nylander tied the game on Tavares’ feed. After Lee restored New York’s lead, Tavares tied the game on a pass from Nylander, initiated by Samsonov. Isles went for a line change and Samsonov fed it to Nylander at the far blue line, who headed it past a charging Tavares. Jarnkrok then scored on a breakaway, which was again fed by Nylander. Nylander then, without any assistance, lifted the corner over a distressed Ilya Sorokin.
Keefe said, “I was really impressed with our team’s ability to come back and turn games around.”
Monday’s game was the first of five consecutive at the Scotiabank Center that would lead the Leafs into the All-Star break and their bye week. At 17–3–4, the Leafs had the second-best home record in the league entering Monday.
“It helps with the recovery side of things and you can be comfortable at home, staying in our own building facilities,” Tavares said. “We get a chance to play in front of our fans. So we have an opportunity here. We want to take advantage of it.”
the rooster moves
Forward Dryden Hunt cleared waivers and was loaned to the Marlies … TJ Brodie (rib) could be back in the lineup by the weekend … Jordy Benn and Wayne Simmonds were scratched.
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