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Muzzin is Buzzin as Leafs soar to 6-1 win over Ducks

by Adam Proteau Proteautype / MapleLeafs.com

After beating the Pittsburgh Penguins at Scotiabank Arena Saturday, the Maple Leafs were seeking their second consecutive win at home - and they looked strong in the opening period against Anaheim Monday, firing 13 shots on Ducks goaltender John Gibson in the first 20 minutes of action, while limiting the visitors to only eight shots on Leafs netminder Frederik Andersen.

 

AFTER SCORELESS FIRST PERIOD, TAVARES PUTS LEAFS AHEAD EARLY IN SECOND

After beating the Pittsburgh Penguins at Scotiabank Arena Saturday, the Maple Leafs were seeking their second consecutive win at home - and they looked strong in the opening period against Anaheim Monday, firing 13 shots on Ducks goaltender John Gibson in the first 20 minutes of action, while limiting the visitors to only eight shots on Leafs netminder Frederik Andersen.

Although neither team was able to generate any offence in the first frame, Toronto continued to pressure Gibson and the Ducks. And at the 3:02 mark of the second, centre John Tavares ripped a shot over Gibson's right shoulder and into the net for a 1-0 Leafs lead and Tavares' team-leading 31st goal of the season:

Video: ANA@TOR: Tavares snipes puck home to kick off scoring

Tavares' goal put him just six goals behind tying his goal output in 82 games with the New York Islanders last season. It also marked his first goal in four games - one of Tavares' longer scoring droughts of the year: he had a five-game scoreless stretch in mid-October, but after that, Tavares had just three streaks where he didn't score in three or more games. That consistency is part of what makes him so well-regarded.  

JOHNSSON'S GOAL - AND MUZZIN'S FIRST GOAL AND ASSIST AS A LEAF - PUTS TORONTO UP BY THREE LATE IN SECOND

Anaheim entered Monday's game on a three-game losing skid, and had only two wins in their past 17 games, so their struggles were well-known. And the Leafs capitalized on their woes, holding the Ducks to only six shots in the first 16 minutes of the second period, while firing another 14 at Gibson in that span. And though Gibson made a number of saves to keep his team in the game, he couldn't stop the entire barrage of Leafs shots - and at the 13:40 mark of the middle period, winger Andreas Johnsson netted his 11th goal of the year to make it 2-0 for Toronto:

Video: ANA@TOR: Johnsson goes top shelf to double the lead

Before the second period ended, new Leafs defenceman Jake Muzzin - playing in only his third game as a Leaf after being acquired from the Los Angeles Kings Jan. 28 - had a huge impact on the course of the game: after he drilled Ducks forward Corey Perry into the boards near Anaheim's bench, Muzzin drew a retaliatory penalty and put Toronto on the power play with less than seven seconds left before the second intermission.

However, Leafs fans didn't have to wait until the third period to see the power play pay off: with only three seconds left in the period, Muzzin took a pass from fellow D-man Jake Gardiner, and one-timed a shot that found its way through traffic and into Anaheim's net:
 
Video: ANA@TOR: Muzzin beats buzzer for first as Maple Leaf

The crowd erupted in appreciation for Muzzin, who'd actually earned his first point as a Leaf on Johnsson's goal. And Muzzin's goal - his fifth of the season, with assists to Gardiner and Johnsson, who had a point on every Leafs goal to that point - put the Buds in a commanding position as the third period began. After 40 minutes, Toronto had 32 shots on Gibson (to only 18 Ducks shots on Andersen), and the Leafs looked like they were in no mood to surrender the lead.

DUCKS GET ON SCOREBOARD AT START OF THIRD, BUT LEAFS REPLY RIGHT AWAY ON GOALS FROM BROWN, NYLANDER TO LOCK UP SECOND STRAIGHT VICTORY

The Ducks are a proud, veteran squad, and their feistiness at the end of the second period was an indication they weren't going to lie down and hand the Leafs the win. That fact was underscored at the start of the third, when forward Rickard Rakell broke Andersen's shutout bid by scoring his ninth goal of the year at 2:45 of the period.

But 31 seconds after Rakell scored, the Leafs restored their three-goal lead when winger Connor Brown knocked in a fantastic pass from winger William Nylander for Brown's fifth goal of the year:

Video: ANA@TOR: Brown backhands Nylander's dish into the net

Muzzin added the secondary assist to give him a three-point night, but Toronto's offence didn't stop there: at the 6:04 mark, Nylander streaked down the win and ripped a shot past Gibson for Nylander's second goal of the year at a 5-1 Leafs advantage:

Video: ANA@TOR: Nylander snaps puck by Gibson to pad lead

Nylander's goal - which capped off a strong night for him - helped lock up Toronto's second straight victory and third win in four games. But it wasn't the Leafs' last goal of the game; that came from Johnsson at the 14:51 mark when the winger netted his second goal (12th of the year) and fourth point of the evening:

Video: ANA@TOR: Johnsson puts home his second goal of night

The Leafs will close out their home stand Wednesday when they host the Ottawa Senators, and after that, the Buds embark on a season-high six-game road trip that takes them to Montreal, Manhattan, Colorado, Las Vegas, Arizona and St. Louis. If the Buds can continue dominating possession as they did Monday, they should be able to pick up more wins than losses on the trip.

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