The Toronto Maple Leafs completed a three-game domination of the Edmonton Oilers with a 6-1 victory at Rogers Place on Wednesday, but will not have any opportunity to savor it as they take on the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on Thursday.
The Leafs once again neutralized the high-powered Edmonton offense, holding NHL leading scorer Connor McDavid scoreless for the third straight game, weathered an early Oilers onslaught and built a substantial lead. Jimmy Vesey scored twice, John Tavares, Ilya Mikheyev, William Nylander and Zach Hyman scored for Toronto and Frederik Andersen made 26 saves in his first start since February 20.
“We feel really good about the results and how we handled leads, how we built leads. Just a lot of really good things coming out of this series here for us.” Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said after the game. “We knew coming in we were playing against a very good team that was as hot or hotter than any team in the NHL and coming in with lots of confidence. For us to get results like this is a really good and healthy sign. But yeah, as you say, as much as we’d love to sit and enjoy this one, we’re off to the plane and off to Vancouver.”
Auston Matthews returned after missing two games with a wrist injury and was held without a point, but registered seven shots on goal in 18:43. The club once again got production throughout their lineup and a pair of goals from the Toronto power play.
“I think we’re feeding off each other. I think we’re building a really strong bond here as a group. I think we recognize that we have a very good team. When we play the right way we’re hard to beat.” Leafs veteran Jason Spezza said. “Everyone’s pushing each other and when you see the standard gets raised I think it makes everybody want to play better and make sure that you’re reaching that standard.”
With the win, Toronto has opened up a seven-point lead for the NHL’s best record (18-4-2) and a nine-point lead over Winnipeg for top spot in the North Division.
The Canucks (9-15-2) have lost five of their last six games and continue to struggle defensively, with 90 goals allowed (second-worst in the NHL). Thatcher Demko (5-9-1, 3.06 GAA, .907 save %) will be between the pipes for Vancouver, while the Leafs plan to reveal their starter just before the game.
Jack Campbell skated Friday morning as part of an optional morning skate, but it is unknown whether he is ready for action. If not, Michael Hutchinson will make his fifth start of the season. Keefe indicated that the only other lineup change will be Nic Petan replacing Travis Boyd.
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