It was a game of firsts at Scotiabank Arena Saturday Night; Toronto’s first win of 2019; Marlie call up Trevor Moore scored his first NHL goal and newly acquired goaltender Michael Hutchinson not only chalked up his first win as a Maple Leaf, but a shutout to boot in a 5-0 victory over the visiting Vancouver Canucks.
Toronto played the perfect road/playoff type game that will be needed to extend their season deep into the spring. From goal out they played with a determined discipline that a recent mini two-game slide may have reminded the skilled group, talent alone is not enough to be successful in today’s NHL.
In fairness to the Canucks, it was their third game in four nights on the road and they really didn’t mount much of a push-back against the Maple Leafs. The few chances they did manage to create were quickly erased by Michael Hutchinson who playing in his second game as a Maple Leaf looked much more comfortable in the net.
The critics who’ve been blasting the play of William Nylander the last few games will soon be silenced if the young Swede continues to progress off last night’s effort which was his best since returning. He was skating and controlling the play in a fashion we’ve come to expect after his first three years as a Leaf. What everyone must remember is Nylander hasn’t played since last April; he is slowly rounding back into form every game as his confidence continues to build and against the Canucks the chemistry with Auston Matthews was a frustration for the visitors from the left coast all game. As Axel Rose once said, “A little patience.”
Hutchinson gave the Leafs the type of goaltending a back up should provide; the team responded with a gritty effort pretty much shutting the Canuck forwards down any chance they manage to produce.
Auston Matthews, in a minor slump goal wise for him, had one on a wrap around to pretty much diffuse any thought of a come back by the Canucks. He added a couple of third period assists and for the fifth time this season had a three-point evening.
John Tavares with his team leading 27th had the winner while Trevor Moore, Andreas Johnsson and Igor Ozhiganov rounded out the scoring for the home side.
Good solid win by Toronto and the key to the victory was the Leafs kept their feet moving the entire 60-minutes. When they consistently play hard in both ends of the ice combined with the elite skill level possessed upfront, they will be extremely tough to play against and to reap any success against teams like Tampa or Boston it’s the only way.
The muster they displayed against Vancouver will quickly be put too the test Monday when they face the equally talented Nashville Predators.