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Leafs Bounce Back With Win Over Caps

January 30, 2023, 5:43 PM ET [325 Comments]
Mike Augello
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The Toronto Maple Leafs successfully bounced back from another weak effort against a bottom dweller with an excellent effort against a playoff club, as John Tavares registered a pair of assists in his 1000th NHL game in a 5-1 victory over the Washington Capitals at Scotiabank Arena on Sunday.

Michael Bunting, Morgan Rielly, William Nylander, Pierre Engvall, and Zach Aston-Reese scored for Toronto, and Ilya Samsonov made 23 saves for the win against his former club in his sixth straight start.

Once again, the Leafs started slow but took control of the game with a dominant second period, tying the game on Bunting’s power play, taking the lead for good on Rielly’s first goal of the season, and scoring two more at even strength.

“It took a while for us to get going.” Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said after the game. Our first period was a bit quiet for us. We had to really get skating. That was our message between periods. I thought we really increased our pressure on the puck. As result, we got a lot more territory, put them into bad spots, and our guys made good on their chances.”

Samsonov was strong after being pressed into duty on short notice against Ottawa on Friday, something that Keefe was forced into after Matt Murray aggravated his ankle injury in warmups.

“Not an easy game for (Ilya). He has been rolling well. He has been playing a lot more than we would like him to or that we intended to.” Keefe said. “There is all of that, and then you bring his old team into town. I thought he was excellent. The guys did a really good job in front of him — in particular in periods two and three.”

The Leafs called up Joseph Woll on an emergency basis to backup Samsonov and the club indicated that Murray would not play on Sunday and in the finale before the All-Star break against Boston on Wednesday, but the club did not put him on injured reserve.

Before the game, the Leafs placed Auston Matthews on IR, sent winger Bobby McMann down to the AHL, and activated defenseman TJ Brodie, who played over 21 minutes after missing three weeks with a rib injury.


Whether chatter and sightings of Kyle Dubas in press boxes before March 3rd will equate to moves prior to the deadline, no one knows for certain. The Leafs GM and Director of Pro Scouting Dave Morrison were seen in Vancouver at Friday’s Canucks game vs. Columbus.

That could mean some interest in many of the Vancouver players (Bo Horvat and Luke Schenn in particular) that are rumored to be available, but it could also mean the Leafs are getting a look at Jackets blueliner Vladislav Gavrikov. The 27-year-old is a rental but is represented by agent Daniel Milstein, who Toronto has a good relationship with (based on his representation of Rodion Amirov, former Leaf Ilya Mikheyev, and others), which means there is a possibility of Dubas possibly finding out what it would cost to extend him.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman indicated on Monday that rumors are that Dubas has the appetite to make a big move before the deadline, but does not know whether it is possible with the Leafs current cap constraints.


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