September 21, 2023

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Maple Leafs finish yr in successful trend, beating the defending Cup champion Avalanche

Maple Leafs finish yr in successful trend, beating the defending Cup champion Avalanche

Solely the Boston Bruins, with 65 wins, and Colorado, with 58, had extra wins than the Leafs in 2022

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DENVER — Completely satisfied New Yr, Leafs Nation.

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Your favorite hockey workforce gave you one thing to savour on the ultimate night time of 2022.

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The Maple Leafs spanked the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche 6-2 at Ball Area on Saturday night time, sending themselves and their passionate fan base into 2023 in a revelling temper.

The win marked the Leafs’ greatest effort of their three-game journey, coming after an extra time win in St. Louis and a stinging loss in Arizona.

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Importantly, the Leafs, up by three, allowed simply seven photographs on aim within the third interval. Colorado wasn’t given an opportunity to regroup.

“I believed it was a cleaner recreation,” Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe mentioned. “We received contributions from all 4 traces, all six defencemen, received saves from Murr (goalie Matt Murray) once we wanted them.

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“It’s a great way to shut out what looks like a protracted street journey, with the gap we travelled and three late flights to get into every metropolis. It has been a problem that method, and I like the best way the fellows received it carried out.”

The Leafs, who began 2022 with a 6-0 residence win towards the Ottawa Senators final Jan. 1, went 57-21-11 within the calendar yr. Solely the Boston Bruins, with 65 wins, and Colorado, with 58, had extra within the Nationwide Hockey League.

The Leafs are 8-0-3 of their previous 11 visits to Colorado. They haven’t misplaced in regulation right here since Jan. 17, 2006.

The Leafs had been higher within the areas that Keefe recognized after the loss towards the Coyotes. They had been tougher on pucks, gained extra battles and backchecked with the type of diligence that has turn out to be an indicator of the workforce.

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Nonetheless, Murray needed to be sharp at instances and completed with 26 saves.

Michael Bunting had two objectives, together with one into an empty internet.

Nathan MacKinnon returned to the Avalanche lineup after lacking 11 video games with an upper-body damage, however he didn’t report a degree.

After scoring late within the first interval, the Avs couldn’t carry the momentum into the second.

Ben Meyers was known as for slashing Justin Holl on the eight-second mark, and the Leafs’ five-forward, No. 1 power-play unit didn’t take lengthy to succeed.

Bunting scored at 34 seconds, beating Alexandar Georgiev from the sting of the crease.

Colorado received one again at 9:45 when the puck went over the aim line after hitting Auston Matthews’ proper skate. Defenceman Devon Toews received credit score, and one of many assists was credited to Denis Malgin, who recorded his first level in 5 video games with Colorado after being acquired from the Leafs.

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Toronto scored two objectives in a span of 24 seconds to chase Georgiev.

Matthews hustled to pressure Malgin right into a turnover within the offensive zone, after which took a cross from William Nylander. Matthews was affected person, ready for Georgiev to commit earlier than scoring at 15:00.

TJ Brodie then beat Georgiev with a floater, ending the goalie’s night time after he allowed 5 objectives on 23 photographs. That introduced backup Jonas Johansson into the sport.

The Matthews aim, simply his third in eight video games, was the 499th level of his NHL profession in his 444th recreation.

“I’ve been lucky to play on actually good groups yr after yr and aggressive groups,” Matthews mentioned on being on the cusp of 500 NHL factors. “It’s not as a lot of a person accomplishment as it’s a workforce accomplishment. I do know myself and Mitchy (Marner, with 497 profession factors) are closing in on that, however we’re working towards one thing larger.

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Matthews scored 58 objectives in 2022, yet another than what Connor McDavid had earlier than the Edmonton Oilers performed the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday.

The Leafs dominated within the first interval, main 2-1 going into the intermission with a 13-6 edge in photographs on aim.

The lone blip got here on the Avs’ aim at 17:28. After a Leafs turnover within the impartial zone, J.T. Compher beat Murray with a shot to the goalie’s blocker aspect that didn’t look overly tough. Murray was down a bit early and gave up the far aspect of internet, making it a simple goal for Compher.

The Leafs took a 2-0 lead on objectives by Marner, who received the post-win belt, and Pierre Engvall.

Marner opened the scoring at 6:51 after fooling defenceman Andreas Englund with a stutter-step. Marner burst right into a patch of open ice and beat Georgiev with a shot over the netminder’s proper pad.

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Engvall scored at 9:27 throughout a delayed Avalanche penalty, burying a free puck from the sting of the crease.

“Our particulars had been slightly higher,” captain John Tavares mentioned. “I nonetheless suppose we will get to a different degree, nevertheless it has been a heck of every week.

“It takes a number of effort and focus each shift whenever you’re enjoying towards defending champs. We regrouped from the opposite night time.”


The Toronto Marlies misplaced their closing recreation of 2022 as they had been crushed 3-2 by the Rochester People on Saturday afternoon.

Graham Slaggert and Bobby McMann scored for the Marlies earlier than a crowd of 4,796 on the Coca-Cola Coliseum. Erik Kallgren confronted simply 13 photographs within the Marlies internet and made 10 saves.

With a report of 19-9-1-1, the Marlies stay in first place within the American Hockey League’s North Division.

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