Newly acquired defenseman Jake Muzzin came as advertised looking more comfortable by the game in a much needed 6-1 drubbing of the Anaheim Ducks at the Scotiabank Arena Monday night.
It was the first back-to-back wins since mid-December’s 5-game win streak.
The physical play of Muzzin along with the sorely missing secondary scoring were front and center lead by Andreas Johnsson with a pair, Connor Brown, William Nylander, John Tavares with his team leading 31st, and for good measure Muzzin chipped in with a goal and an assist to round out the scoring.
The Leafs came at the Ducks from the opening face-off getting pucks to the net and while John Gibson was at his acrobatic best keeping the score even through the opening period, the visitors just couldn’t match the highly skilled Toronto forwards.
The Ducks, who’ve struggled to win games the last month, let their frustrations get the best of them after a thunderous check by Muzzin on Corey Perry resulting in a dumb penalty by Nick Ritchie. The sweet revenge was Muzzin burying a bullet behind Gibson 3-seconds into the power play to put them up 3-0. The skate to the bench from the penalty box must have felt like a mile to Ritchie.
The Ducks became more frustrated waving at the Leafs forwards whirling around them all game and cheap shot artist Ryan Kessler tried his best to run anyone he could but, like most of his team mates, you can’t hit what you can’t catch.
Frederik Andersen wasn’t tested that often but when the Ducks did manage to create scoring chances, was razor sharp. He made a few brilliant saves that’s the type of goaltending needed, especially with a grueling 6-game road trip starting in Montreal on Saturday.
The Ottawa Senators stop in for a visit Wednesday and, like the Ducks, are teams lower in the standings that Toronto must not look past to secure a playoff spot.
Monday’s effort was reminiscent of October’s fast paced up tempo game and when they play that way, few teams can match them. With William Nylander rounding into form, it bodes well for a strong finish the last 30 games.