Playing the worst team in the league, you expect to do well, but the Leafs of old will certainly tell cautionary tales of taking it too easy against Buffalo.
1-0 TOR Goal (Johnsson)
Andreas Johnsson (2) from Tomas Plekanec (20) and Roman Polak (10):
1-1 BUF Goal (Reinhart)
Sam Reinhart (24) PPG from Rasmus Ristolainen (24) and Ryan O’Reilly (36):
A good shot-for-tip from Rasmus Ristolainen indeed finds that tip from Sam Reinhart. Not much that Curtis McElhinney could do there, as the puck just finds a hole through him.
2-1 TOR Goal (Matthews)
Auston Matthews (33) PPG from Morgan Rielly (45) and Andreas Johnsson (1):
3-1 TOR Goal (Nylander)
William Nylander (18) from Auston Matthews (27):
This is a great find by Auston Matthews and a shifty attack by Nylander to get right in that soft spot between the two defenders. Bad change by the Buffalo defense was pointed out on the broadcast, but not enough was made of just how slickly Nylander attacked the perfect spot.
4-1 TOR Goal (Also Nylander)
William Nylander (19), 2nd of the night, from Zach Hyman (25):
4-2 BUF Goal (Pominville)
Jason Pominville (14) PPG from Nicholas Baptiste (2) and Marco Scandella (16):
5-2 TOR Goal (Matthews)
Auston Matthews (33) PPG from William Nylander (40) and Jake Gardiner (45):
This passing play is absolutely gorgeously executed. Nylander’s ability to find Matthews across the “Royal Road” is impressive to say the least, and Matthews is able to find a 5-hole space to bury the puck.
This is obviously a solid win for the Maple Leafs, but the opponent certainly did not square up with the teams that the Leafs will face in the playoffs. As the worst team in the league, this is a game that the Leafs have to play well in. Anything less would be demoralizing and indicative of a lack of preparation or mental fortitude.
This isn’t to take anything away from the individual plays made tonight, but they were executed against one of the worst defensive teams in the league. Those passing lanes will not necessarily be available against a Tampa Bay or a Boston. Hopefully the Leafs can use their creativity to continue to execute this excellent offense against stronger opponents come playoff time.
The next game for Toronto, their second last of the year, will be Thursday in New Jersey at 7 p.m.