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Five Takeaways - Leafs vs. Islanders - 02/14/17

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 7-1 victory over the New York Islanders Tuesday at Air Canada Centre:

by Adam Proteau / MapleLeafs.com

Leivo opens the scoring

NYI@TOR: Leivo buries quick shot from the circle

Josh Leivo skates in towards the circle and rips a snap shot that beats Thomas Greiss' glove, giving the Maple Leafs a 1-0 lead in the 1st

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1. Leivo's first goal of the season puts Leafs ahead midway through opening period. Winger Josh Leivo has had some injuries to deal with this season and was playing in just his fifth NHL game of the season Tuesday, but the 23-year-old took advantage of an Islanders turnover in their own zone and beat goalie Thomas Greiss on his glove side with a stellar shot at the 11:36 mark of the first period to give Toronto a 1-0 advantage.

Leivo has been playing on the Leafs' fourth line and doesn't lead the team in time on ice, but his game has been improving and his shot is world-class. His goal - the eighth of his NHL career in his 33rd regular-season game - also gave the Buds a good start, something they've needed of late.

Video: NYI@TOR: Kadri tips home loose puck in the crease

 2. Islanders come close to tying it up, but Andersen keeps them at bay and Kadri extends the lead. The Islanders have been a much-improved squad since firing former head coach Jack Capuano and replacing him with Doug Weight, and were 6-2-2 heading into Tuesday's tilt. They looked dangerous in parts of the first, hitting the post a few times and firing 12 shots in total on Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen. However, Andersen turned them all aside, and with 32 seconds left before the first intermission, Toronto pushed down the ice into the Isles' zone and defenceman Nikita Zaitsev's slap shot from the point was tipped by centre Nazem Kadri into the net to make it 2-0 for the home side after 20 minutes of play.

Kadri's goal was his 21st of the year and ended a nine-game goalless streak. In addition, it set a new career-high in goals for the 26-year-old and was his 41st point of the year. If he continues at this pace, he should set a new career-best in points as well; his current high mark is 50 points, set in the 2013-14 campaign.

Video: NYI@TOR: Nylander finds twine with deflection off leg

3. Kadri posts multi-point night with assist on Nylander's second period marker. The last time Kadri scored prior to Tuesday - in a Jan. 23 game against the Calgary Flames - he also had his most recent multi-point game, with two goals in total that night. But he followed up his first-period goal against the Isles with an assist on winger William Nylander's second-period marker at 9:26 to give Toronto a 3-0 lead.

The last time the Islanders and Leafs squared off wasn't long ago - Feb. 6 in Brooklyn, to be exact - and because the Buds didn't put together a full 60-minute effort, the Isles made a late-game comeback and won 6-5 in overtime. But thanks to the focus of Kadri, Andersen and all four of Toronto's lines, there was no chance for them to pull off a similar feat.

4. Isles get on scoresheet late in second thanks to debatable penalty shot. Toronto was outshot by the Islanders 28-21 through the first 40 minutes, but the visitors needed a penalty shot - one that was, to put it kindly, worthy of much debate - to get on the scoreboard. The officials ruled blueliner Matt Hunwick hooked winger Jason Chimera on a breakaway, and awarded him a free shot against Andersen at the 16:55 mark of the middle frame. Chimera did not miss, scoring his 14th of the year, and Leafs Nation at the ACC were displeased in the extreme.

The fans in attendance were even more irate shortly thereafter, when Kadri was called for hooking on John Tavares at 17:51 of the second, but Toronto's penalty killers prevented the Isles from cutting their lead to a single goal and the Leafs entered the third period ahead by a pair. 

Video: NYI@TOR: Matthews roofs a slick backhand PPG

5. Matthews uses backhand on power play to restore Leafs' three-goal lead, Bozak provides more offence, and Matthews scores second of night. The Leafs and Islanders built some hard feelings toward each other as the game went on, but Toronto was not about to wilt in the face of pressure on this occasion: centre Auston Matthews scored his team-leading 26th of the year on a power play at 5:41 of the third; 95 seconds later, centre Tyler Bozak added his 14th of the year to put the Buds in firm control; at the 11:51 mark, Matthews netted his second of the game to put it out of reach for the Isles; and with 4:20 left in regulation, Matt Hunwick scored his first of the year to make it a six-goal lead.

Andersen wound up stopping all but one of the 34 shots he faced, and 14 Leafs had at least one point - including two-point nights for Kadri, Nylander and Matthews, and a three-point night for Leivo - as Toronto enjoyed as strong a game as they've played since the NHL all-star break. They head to Columbus Wednesday to take on the Blue Jackets, and they'll do so feeling good about themselves.

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