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Five Takeaways - Leafs @ Jets - 10/04/17

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 7-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets Wednesday at Bell MTS Place:

by Adam Proteau / MapleLeafs.com

Andersen's nice skate save

TOR@WPG: Andersen extends to deny Trouba with skate

Jacob Trouba speeds into the zone and makes a strong move to his backhand, but Frederik Andersen extends his pad for a great skate save

  • 00:16 •

1. Andersen stands out early on as Leafs take three straight penalties to start game. The Leafs kicked off their regular season with a tough matchup against the Jets, and their task was made much more difficult in the early parts of the first period due to a trio of minor penalties in the first 11:21 that gave Winnipeg a number of opportunities to stake out a lead. However, goaltender Frederik Andersen, who looked sharp throughout the pre-season, turned aside all of the Jets' power play chances and a whopping 17 shots through the first 20 minutes of action.

As the second season of Andersen's Leafs career began, he looked as focused and structurally sound as he did for the grand majority of last year, when you could make a good case for him as Toronto's most valuable player night-in-and-night-out. He certainly showed his value in preventing Winnipeg from scoring early and allowing Jets fans to become a factor - and in thwarting their scoring aspirations on all four man advantages the home team enjoyed in the opening frame.   

 

Video: TOR@WPG: Kadri hammers in a PPG to open the scoring

2. Buds burst out with barrage of goals late in first frame, open up big lead before intermission. Andersen's array of saves allowed his teammates to shake off their discipline issues in the first, and on Toronto's first power play of the first, the Buds took the first lead of the night thanks to centre Nazem Kadri's first goal of the season at the 15:45 mark.

Then, just 1:55 later, the Leafs added to that lead on an even-strength marker from winger James van Riemsdyk, who also had the primary assist on Kadri's goal. And 43 seconds after that - and following a hellacious forecheck by winger Zach Hyman that established Leafs puck control in the Jets zone - winger William Nylander fired the puck into a wide-open Winnipeg net to make it 3-0 for the visitors with 1:37 left until the first intermission.

Toronto's forwards proved last year they could build up offence quickly, and after their goalie bailed them out of the first half of the opening frame, their scorers atoned for it the rest of the period.

Video: TOR@WPG: Marleau scores in first game with Leafs

3. Marleau scores first as a Leaf on gorgeous play that gives Buds four-goal advantage in second. Winger Patrick Marleau was the Leafs' most notable off-season acquisition, and the 20-year NHL veteran wasted no time in his debut with Toronto to show Buds fans why he was so beloved in San Jose: after taking a slick backhanded saucer pass from centre Auston Matthews inside the Jets' blueline, Marleau drove to the net and deftly stickhandled the puck in close until goalie Steve Mason had no chance to stop him, then quickly tapped it into the net for his first as a Leaf at the 8:35 mark of the second.

Matthews deserved credit for the setup - his second assist of the game - but the soft hands and incredible hand-eye-coordination of Marleau was what finished it. The 38-year-old Marleau had amassed 508 career regular-season goals before he signed with Toronto, but his 509th was a thing of beauty, and will forever have a little extra-special meaning for him and for Leafs Nation.

Video: TOR@WPG: Marleau notches second goal on Kadri's feed

4. Marleau strikes again early in third to force a Jets goalie change, put Leafs in commanding lead. The Leafs killed off six Jets power plays before the third period began, but started the the final regulation frame by quickly applying pressure in Winnipeg's zone - and they were rewarded for it when Kadri found Marleau directly in front of Mason, and Marleau beat the Jets netminder for the second time in the game to make it 5-0 for Toronto at the 36-second mark.

Marleau will be on highlight reels because of his pair of goals, but he also deserves kudos for his efforts on defence: Leafs head coach Mike Babcock played him for 2:44 of penalty kill time, 2:06 of power play time and 14:41 overall, and the veteran did not disappoint in any aspect of the game.

Video: TOR@WPG: Matthews tips Carrick's shot past Hellebuyck

5. Marner, Matthews add goals in third as Leafs sew up first victory of the year. The third period turned out to be much looser than the two that preceded it, with both sides giving each other a pair of man advantages and a number of high-quality scoring chances. But it was the Leafs who added to their lead again after Marleau's second of the game: winger Mitch Marner, who had the secondary assist on Marleau's first goal, scored his first of the year with a power play marker at 8:07.

Winnipeg got on the scoreboard 3:24 later on centre Mark Schiefele's first of the season, but the Buds answered back 26 seconds after that when Matthews deflected a Connor Carrick shot into Winnipeg's net to make it 7-1 and give Matthews three points in his first game as a sophomore. Jets centre Mathieu Perreault scored exactly one minute later for the final goal of the game, but by that point, the Leafs had established themselves as the better team.

All-in-all, Leafs Nation had to be happy with this outing, as even the rough spots for Toronto - for example, the eight power plays Toronto surrendered all were killed off - had positive elements to them. Andersen was tremendous when he needed to be and stopped 35 of 37 Jets shots, Marleau made a terrific first impression in a Buds uniform, and the Leafs' potent offence delivered more than enough goals to win the game. The Blue & White will head back to Toronto to prepare for their next game - Saturday night against the New York Rangers at Air Canada Centre - with the confidence they can do more than a little damage.
 

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