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Five Takeaways - Leafs at Ducks -11/01/17

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 3-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks Wednesday at Honda Center:

by Adam Proteau / MapleLeafs.com

Brown opens the scoring

TOR@ANA: Brown buries van Riemsdyk's great feed

James van Riemsdyk threads a perfect pass to Connor Brown on an odd-man rush and he taps it home to give the Maple Leafs a 1-0 lead in the 1st

  • 01:02 •

1. Leafs look energized in first and score game's first goal, but Ducks counter quickly, tie it before first intermission. Toronto was aiming to end a three-game losing streak Wednesday, and came out of the gate strongly against Anaheim (who'd won two in a row leading up to the contest), outshooting the Ducks 12-7 in the first period and registering the night's first goal when winger Connor Brown finished off an excellent pass from winger James van Riemsdyk on a 2-on-1 rush at 7:54 of the opening frame.

The goal was Brown's fourth of the season - and blueliner Ron Hainsey added an assist (his eighth of the year) - and infused the Leafs with some confidence. However, Anaheim struck back 1:19 later on winger Ondrej Kase's fifth goal of the season, and the teams entered the first intermission tied 1-1.  

2. Penalty problems keep Toronto on the defensive in scoreless second frame. The Leafs failed to earn a single power play opportunity in their 3-2 loss to San Jose Monday, and surrendered four man advantages to the Sharks, who scored the go-ahead marker with the extra man. And again Wednesday, staying out of the penalty box proved to be an issue for Toronto: they were called for the first three minor penalties of the game against the Ducks, and racked up four penalties in total through 40 minutes of play.

That problem led to Anaheim turning the tables on the Buds in the shot department in the second period - the home team outshot the visitors 17-6 in that span - and limited the time the Leafs spent in the Ducks' defensive zone. There were scoring chances - centre Auston Matthews nearly scored on a breakaway in the period, but hit the post; and his Anaheim counterpart Rickard Rackell did the same thing on a power play with a shot all alone in front of Toronto goaltender Frederik Andersen in the middle frame. But Andersen turned aside all shots he saw in the frame, and the game remained tied as the final regulation period began.
 

Video: TOR@ANA: Marleau backhands one past Gibson for lead

3. Marleau does tough work in front of Ducks' net, scores go-ahead marker at start of third. Veteran forward Patrick Marleau was skating as a centre in this game, but a change from his normal wing position didn't alter the way he plays: he still strives to secure the puck in high-impact offensive-zone areas, and such was the case at the beginning of the third period: Hainsey fired a shot from inside the Ducks' blueline that hit Marleau in the back as he jostled for position in front of Ducks netminder John Gibson; and in one fluid motion, Marleau spun around and took a backhanded swing at the puck, knocking it past Gibson for his fifth of the year and a 2-1 Leafs lead at 1:09 of the frame.

With his second helper of the night, Hainsey moved into a tie for the team lead with fellow blueliner Morgan Rielly for assists. But it was Marleau's smart positional work, savvy instincts and outstanding hand-eye coordination that made the difference on the scoring sequence.


4. After solid effort in loss to Sharks, Andersen sharp again, keeps Ducks off scoresheet in final two periods. Despite losing to the Sharks, Andersen was stellar between the pipes for Toronto and gave them a chance to tie it up. And the longer the game against the Ducks went on, the better Andersen played. Anaheim believed they'd tied it with 1:38 left in regulation, but the on-ice officials ruled the puck was kicked into Toronto's net - and though Ducks coach Randy Carlyle challenged the play, the video review went in favour of the Leafs. That ruling also meant Andersen stopped every Ducks shot but one (28 in total) to beat his former team for the first time since he was acquired by the Buds in the summer of 2016.

Andersen's win was his seventh of the year, and while he certainly earned the kudos he'll receive for his strong play, his teammates hunkered down in the third to limit Anaheim's chances: the Ducks registered only five shots on him in the final 20 minutes, which will make Leafs head coach Mike Babcock a happy man.

5. Komarov's empty-netter seals win for Leafs, who square off against Kings Thursday. With the Ducks pressing for the tying marker in the final 98 seconds, Gibson began to skate toward his team's bench in favor of the extra attacker as soon as the puck was dropped following the coach's challenge ruling. But although Anaheim won the draw, it couldn't get the puck into Toronto's zone; instead, it went off Marleau's stick and directly to winger Leo Komarov, who capitalized on Gibson striding to the bench and fired the puck into the Ducks' net before Gibson could get back into position.

Komarov's goal was his second of the year; Marleau's assist was his fourth of the season; and most crucially, the marker iced a much-needed win for Toronto, whose record improves to 8-4-0 and 1-1-0 on this four-game West Coast road trip. The Leafs immediately will head to Los Angeles for a tilt against the Kings Thursday, and given that the Buds beat L.A. 3-2 on Oct. 23, Toronto will once again have to play a smart, opportunistic-type of game if they want to begin a win streak.

All-in-all, the Leafs were the better team - and although the Ducks were missing several key members Wednesday, Toronto still put in a resilient effort and had long stretches of strong play at both ends of the rink. That hasn't always been the case in the now-snapped three-game losing streak, so Babcock will take the two points and try to build on it against the Kings and Blues (whom they visit Saturday) before heading back home to battle the surprisingly competitive Las Vegas Golden Knights.

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