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Potent Offence Powers Leafs

by David Alter / Toronto Maple Leafs

A potent offence was all that the Maple Leafs needed to get back into the win column.

On a night when the Leafs honoured the late Pat Quinn, Toronto scored their second goal with 23 seconds to go in the first period. Their third tally was scored 23 seconds into the second period. David Clarkson scored 23 seconds after Washington scored their first goal, while the Leafs finished the game with 23 shots on goal, en route to a 6-2 win over the Capitals.

It was a fitting tribute to a man who wore No. 23 for the Blue and White.

An experimental power-play proved to be just what the Leafs needed to get back on track as far as special teams were concerned.

Nazem Kadri was used on the point for much of Saturday's Leafs power plays. While he was clearly getting adjusted to a brand new role, he was on the ice in that role for the Leafs’ fifth goal of the game.

“It was just keeping it simple, I made some good plays,” said Kadri, who finished the night with one assist and a plus two rating. “I made one mistake but it’s all about being comfortable with it and getting my motions down pat and then I’ll be able to make more plays.”

The Leafs' three power-play goals were the most they’ve had in a game since Nov. 12, when they beat the Boston Bruins at Air Canada Centre 6-1.

Tyler Bozak extended his goal scoring streak to three games with a pair of goals against the Washington Capitals. The five goals over that span represent the most he’s ever had over any three-game period.

“The puck is kind of following me around a little bit,” Bozak said of his recent hot streak. “Playing confident and line mates are making great plays to me, so it’s been a nice few games hopefully we can keep it going for a bit.”

Bozak scored on two of his three shots on goal and appeared to be locked in on his first career hat trick. But it wasn’t meant to be when Caps goaltender Braden Holtby robbed Bozak’s 17-foot snapshot.

The Leafs offence has really been something we haven’t seen in previous seasons.

In 23 games played, there were 10 games where the Leafs scored at least four goals, seven where they scored five goals and three games where they scored six times.

But the Capitals showed that shots on goal don’t mean everything. They average the fewest shots against in the NHL and limited the Leafs to their season worst total. Still the Leafs scored six times for a season best 26% in shooting.

“I think they’re third, or whatever, in goals for, that’s something we were aware of coming into it,” said Capitals defenceman Brooks Orpik. “It was something we were aware of, I think we gave them a lot of the chances they got and we outshot them by quite a bit but the quality of chances that we gave up on our goalies wasn’t very good.”

The Leafs remain third in goals scored this season, just one back of the New York Islanders. They are 10-0-0 in games where they have scored four or more goals this season. The Leafs have had just four six-plus goal games all last season. Right now, they have three of them just 23 games in.

Scary Moment for Komarov
Leo Komarov
left the game in the third period after a vicious elbow delivered by former KHL teammate Alex Ovechkin.

“He’s going to be having further evaluation. He seems fine now but now we take the necessary steps to make sure that the player is fully aware and conscious and he is now,” said Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle following the game.

The Leafs improved to 9-0-0 this season when they score the first goal of the game. That accounts for 75% of their win total. They improved to 5-0-0 this season against Metropolitan Division opponents not named "Penguins". Mike Santorelli has quietly established a three-game point streak recording an assist, which was also his 100th career point. Phil Kessel grabbed two assists to lead the team right now with 25 points. The first period goals by Morgan Rielly and Cody Franson marked the first time two Toronto defencemen scored in the same period since Ian White and Francois Beauchemin did it on Dec.9, 2009.

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