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Five Takeaways - Leafs vs. Panthers - 03/28/17

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers Tuesday at Air Canada Centre:

by Adam Proteau /

Matthews' record-breaking tally

FLA@TOR: Matthews buries 35th for Leafs rookie record

Auston Matthews buries Zach Hyman's feed from behind the net, becoming the Maple Leafs' all-time leading rookie goal scorer with 35 tallies

  • 01:03 •

1. Matthews opens scoring to set new rookie goal record, tie record for first goals. The Leafs were all over the Panthers to start Tuesday's game, outshooting Florida 13-3 in the first 20 minutes and entering the first intermission with a 2-0 lead. The first of those goals came from centre Auston Matthews, whose 35th goal of the season at the 11:54 mark broke team icon Wendel Clark's 31-year-old franchise record for goals from a rookie. It was also the 14th time this year Matthews has scored the first goal of the game for Toronto, tying Dave Andreychuk's record from the 1993-94 campaign.

Clark spoke to reporters in the first intermission regarding Matthews' record-breaking marker, and it was clear he is impressed by the 19-year-old's penchant for putting the puck in the net. But Matthews was more happy he put his team ahead in another crucial game and gave the Leafs momentum they'd ride for the entire first period and much of the second.

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Wendel Clark on Matthews' Record-Breaking Goal

by Adam Proteau Proteautype /

Daoust and Clark - 03/28/2017

Dan Daoust and Wendel Clark on team records

Dan Daoust and Wendel Clark on their precarious hold on team records during the Molson Canadian Leafs Nation Game Day show with Paul Hendrick

  • 03:41 •

Wendel Clark cracked up reporters Tuesday when one of them asked him when in the season he thought Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews had a good chance at breaking his 31-year-old franchise record for most goals by a rookie. But make no mistake, Clark is seriously impressed by the 19-year-old Matthews - who scored his 35th goal of the season in the first period against Florida, besting Clark's 34-goal performance in the 1985-86 campaign - and the Leafs icon is thrilled for the bright future Matthews and his young teammates represent.

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Leafs Prepare for Final Stretch

by Adam Proteau /

As the Maple Leafs prepared to wind down the final tenth (or so) of their season, players were thankful on a number of fronts: firstly, that they're still in control of where they'll eventually finish in the NHL standings; and secondly, that the organization has amassed enough depth to keep them competitive through their last eight regular-season games and in position to qualify for the playoffs.

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Maple Leafs Recall Kapanen and Sparks from Marlies

by Toronto Maple Leafs /

The Toronto Maple Leafs announced today that the hockey club has recalled forward Kasperi Kapanen and goaltender Garret Sparks from the Toronto Marlies (AHL). The recall of Sparks is on an emergency basis.

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Five Takeaways - Leafs at Sabres - 03/25/17

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 5-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres Saturday at KeyBank Center:

by Adam Proteau /

Video: TOR@BUF: Brown wires a wrister to beat Lehner

1. Leafs surrender first goal to Sabres, even things up on Brown's goal, then fall behind again prior to end of opening period. Toronto carried a three-game win streak into Saturday's showdown against Buffalo, but the Leafs found themselves trailing first after centre Ryan O'Reilly netted his 18th goal of the season at 7:05 of the opening frame. Winger Connor Brown evened the score for the visitors 2:25 later when he scored his 18th of the season, but the tie lasted all of 15 seconds thanks to Sabres winger Evander Kane, who got his 26th of the season at the 9:45 mark to put his team back on top.

The Leafs' defence - which had limited opponents to two or fewer goals in each of its past nine games - wasn't especially sharp in the first period, failing to clog up shooting lanes and allowing Buffalo 16 shots on goalie Frederik Andersen. But trailing the Sabres by a single goal after 20 minutes still gave them an opportunity to get back in the game.

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Five Takeaways - Leafs vs. Devils - 03/23/17

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils Thursday at Air Canada Centre:

by Adam Proteau /

Leivo jams in rebound for PPG

NJD@TOR: Leivo scores, Nylander sets club record

Josh Leivo jams home the loose puck on a power play as William Nylander records an assist for a 10-game point streak, a club rookie record

  • 00:59 •

1. Leafs rebound from early deficit, take lead before first intermission thanks to goals from Leivo, Nylander. The Leafs were playing the second half of a back-to-back, road-and-home series that saw them beat the Blue Jackets 5-2 in Columbus Wednesday - and while the Devils jumped out to a 1-0 lead at the 2:59 mark of Thursday's game on a goal from defenceman John Moore, Toronto roared back before the first period was finished, with winger Josh Leivo scoring the tying goal at 5:46, and winger William Nylander putting the Buds ahead with 1:43 left in the frame.

Leivo's goal - a power play marker - was his second of the year in his 13th NHL game this season, while Nylander's goal was his second point of the night after he registered the secondary assist on Toronto's first goal. Nylander now has 21 goals and 56 points in 72 games, and his offensive production Thursday gave him at least a point in 10 consecutive games, which set a new franchise record for Leafs rookies. The 20-year-old has been on a tear, but he's endeared himself to head coach Mike Babcock as much for growing his all-around game as he has for his puck prowess.  

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Five Takeaways - Leafs at Blue Jackets - 03/22/17

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 5-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets Wednesday at Nationwide Arena:

by Adam Proteau /


Video: TOR@CBJ: Komarov taps in Kadri's feed after turnover

1. Komarov nets game's first goal, Matthews extends Toronto's lead with power play marker. The Leafs had at least a point in six of their past seven games entering Wednesday's road game against Columbus, and they came out of the gate with a robust physical approach that the Blue Jackets were thrown off by early in the opening period. As a result, Toronto was first on the scoreboard thanks to winger Leo Komarov, who scored his 12th of the year at 8:55 of the first on a nice setup by centre Nazem Kadri.

Video: TOR@CBJ: Matthews jams in rebound for power-play goal

The Leafs extended their lead on the power play just 1:59 after Komarov's goal, when centre Auston Matthews netted his team-leading 33rd of the season (with assists going to winger William Nylander and blueliner Jake Gardiner) to move within one goal of tying Buds legend Wendel Clark's franchise record for goals by a rookie. Toronto looked focused and determined to assert themselves against a Jackets team that had won eight of their past 10 contests, and their ability to produce offence at even strength and on the PP allowed them to do just that.

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Five Takeaways - Leafs vs. Bruins - 03/20/17

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 4-2 win over the Boston Bruins Monday at Air Canada Centre:

by Adam Proteau /

Rielly's scrappy tally

BOS@TOR: Rielly puts home his own rebound with knee

Morgan Rielly's initial backhand is denied by Tuukka Rask, but he taps home the rebound with his knee while sliding to the ice in the 1st

  • 01:14 •

1. Bruins take first lead, but Rielly's rush leads to tying goal. This was a crucial showdown between two division rivals jostling for a playoff berth in a tight Eastern Conference race, and it showed right from the start of the game, as both sides were physical and passionate. And while the Bruins got the first goal of the night - on centre David Backes' 16th of the season at 7:26 of the opening period - the Leafs pushed back and got the game-tying marker at 14:05 of the frame when blueliner Morgan Rielly netted his sixth of the season (and his third in his past five games).

After a terrific start to the sequence by winger Mitch Marner - who registered his team-leading 39th assist of the year on the play - Rielly jumped into the action, went to his backhand for a shot on goalie Tuukka Rask, and then had the rebound ricochet off him and into Boston's net. It was a reward for Rielly, who is looking more comfortable and confident getting involved in the offence than at any point in his four-year NHL career. The Bruins game marked the 301st regular-season game of Rielly's career, and at age 23, the best for him is still to come.

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Five Takeaways - St. Pats vs. Blackhawks - 03/18/17

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 2-1 overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday at Air Canada Centre:

by Adam Proteau /

Video: CHI@TOR: Matthews tips home Nylander's terrific feed

1. Matthews ends scoring drought, puts Leafs in front first on brilliant feed from Nylander. Centre Auston Matthews had gone seven games without registering a point, but given that the Leafs have won four of their past five games and that Matthews was contributing on the defensive end, there was little cause for concern with his offensive totals. But Matthews ended his point drought in a spectacular way Saturday, tipping a terrific pass from winger William Nylander through the legs of Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford at 8:25 of the first period for his team-leading 32nd goal of the season.

The Hawks are 8-2-0 in their past 10 games and showed why after Matthews' goal, turning up the pressure on the Leafs and finishing the opening frame with 13 shots to Toronto's eight. However, Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen - coming off his fourth shutout of the season in the Buds' 5-0 win over Tampa Bay Thursday - was strong and turned aside all of them to keep his team in the lead heading into the first intermission.

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Five Takeaways - Leafs at Lightning - 03/16/17

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 5-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning Thursday at Amalie Arena:

by Adam Proteau /

Video: TOR@TBL: Polak beats Vasilevskiy from the blue line

1. Polak gets rare-but-crucial goal to put Toronto on top midway through first. Defenceman Roman Polak is a key contributor and a veteran presence on a young Leafs team, but his impact normally comes through his physicality and penalty-killing. However, he contributed in a different way at the 9:19 mark of the opening period when he beat Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy to register his fourth goal of the season and put the Leafs ahead 1-0.

The 30-year-old Polak's career high in goals came with Toronto in the 2014-15 campaign when he netted five in 56 games, but he wasn't concerned with personal bests Thursday. Far more important was giving his team an advantage in a crucial contest against a Tampa Bay squad that had won four straight games entering the evening. And though the Leafs were outshot in the period 7-5, Polak's goal was the only goal of the first frame, and set the stage for a burst of Buds offence in the second.

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