The Toronto Maple Leafs began a stretch of three games in four nights with a 3-0 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday. William Nylander scored a pair of goals, Ondrej Kase provided some insurance with a third period marker and Jack Campbell made 36 saves for his second shutout of the season.
Toronto is 6-1-0 in their last seven games and have moved into sole possession of second place in the Atlantic Division with the win. The Leafs were without team captain John Tavares (who was a late scratch due to a lower body injury) and played a tight road game, but did take some careless penalties that allowed the Flyers four chances on the power play.
“I just thought we did a really good job of defending our net today both coming into our zone and into the defensive zone. I really liked our special teams, penalty killing was outstanding. That gives us a lot of life and lot of chances obviously to keep it out of our net. If we keep the score down and keep the game manageable as offense was hard to come by .” Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said after the game. “When we went into the third, we talked about being comfortable winning the game 1-0 if that’s what it was going to take and we thought that if we had that approach there would be some offense available to us. (It was a) textbook third period in a lot of ways. It was a clean win for our team.”
Forward Kirill Semyonov played 11:40 in his first NHL game, primarily on the fourth line with Jason Spezza and Wayne Simmonds. Nick Ritchie shifted up to the second line in Tavares’ absence and took his spot on the Leafs first power play, registering an assist on Nylander’s second goal on the man advantage.
“I liked part of (Ritchie’s game).” Keefe said. “I thought he was huge on the power play that goal, there’s a few touches in that sequence where he makes a great play and (it) leads to a goal. That’s really great to see. I’m sure that will give him a boost. Shows what he’s capable of, a big guy with hands like that, to be able to make plays.”
Justin Holl played over 20 minutes and was +2 in his return to the lineup after being healthy scratched the previous five games. There continues to be speculation with Timothy Liljegren becoming a regular that the Leafs are contemplating a trade of one of their blueliners. While Holl struggled early in the season, his size and being right-handed are aspects that are not in ample supply on the blueline, which would make it unlikely that he would be subject of recent rumors.
Travis Dermott, who played five games on the top pairing alongside Morgan Rielly, did not stand out during his opportunity and with both Liljegren and Rasmus Sandin’s entry-level contracts expiring at the end of the season, it does make sense that GM Kyle Dubas will at some point before next season move out either Holl or Dermott to clear cap space to sign the young blueliners to bridge deals.
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