The severe winter warning in the Triangle area of North Carolina may have been a reminder of Canadian hockey weather that was just the tonic needed to snap the Leafs out of a two-game slide with a 4-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
With Goldilocks type play, not to hot, not to cold, and a just right third period, the visiting Toronto side produced a much better effort than previously a few weeks earlier at the PNC Arena.
Even though Justin Williams potted a power play marker to even the game after Tyler Ennis had given the Leafs the early lead, Morgan Reilly a minute later took the wind out of the sails of the Canes and the Toronto side never looked back.
William Nylander playing with Nazem Kadri and Patrick Marleau continues improving each outing but his speed and timing are not up to elite NHL standards although he did chip in with two assists on the evening.
Auston Matthews missed 14 games after opening the season on a tear and still is not at the level he expects of himself so Nylander who hasn’t played for 7-months can’t possibly be expected to be up to par after 3-games. No matter how much training a player does on his own nothing equates to real physical game action. He’ll be another few weeks at least finding his footing.
Frederik Andersen was solid winning his 17th of the year to tie Marc-Andre Fleury for the league lead, although he really wasn’t tested stopping a very questionable 30-shots. One of the Canes forward’s dads must have been keeping count because Carolina wasn’t much of threat all evening.
Funny the one consistent I notice on the road is the Leafs will rarely come out on top in the statistics column, especially shots on goal. Leafs second last power play they were credited without a shot but Matthews had three from close in himself.
John Tavares with his team leading 19th and Patrick Marleau converting a great pass from William Nylander rounded out the Toronto scoring.
I was quite surprised to see the Canes had 21 giveaways vs. Leafs 12 that should be a good indicator how this game played out.
While it was a decent outing for the Maple Leafs, these are games they are expected to win especially with three road games coming up in places they haven’t had great luck at times, starting with the sizzling hot Tampa Bay Lightening. That will test the mettle of this talented Toronto squad Thursday, followed by visits to Sunrise to play the Florida Panthers Saturday and the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center in Newark next Tuesday.