The Toronto Maple Leafs have not been able to play with any level of consistency all season, but in November the Blue and White have done just enough to earn victories over Philadelphia and Los Angeles. The Leafs followed a similar formula, as team captain John Tavares scored the game-winner in a 2-1 overtime victory over the Vegas Golden Knights at Scotiabank Arena on Thursday.
Auston Matthews scored his club-leading 13th goal for Toronto, but most of the credit for the victory went to Frederik Andersen, who made 37 saves for his ninth win of the season.
The game was dreary, unexciting and sloppy through 40 minutes, with the Leafs going without a shot on goal for over 13 minutes in the middle frame. Max Pacioretty got the Golden Knights on the board early in the third, but Toronto’s struggling power play finally got on track after fizzling for most of the game as Matthews beat Vegas goalie Malcolm Subban on a wrist shot at the top of the faceoff circle to tie the game.
Andersen stood tall throughout the night, but was especially brilliant during a Knights power play late in the third, with a pair of point-blank stops on Jonathan Marchessault and a sprawling save on William Karlsson’s one-timer.
“I know it is pretty significant to give three stars to only one person, but you can debate with the amount of saves (Andersen) made, the key moments, all the penalty kills before overtime that gave us a chance to win it.” Tavares said after the game. “It was a helluva night by Fred.”
The Leafs finish up their three-game homestand on Saturday against the Philadelphia Flyers, before heading out for the first of 13 of their next 16 games on the road against the Blackhawks on Sunday.
Forward Nic Petan and defenseman Martin Marincin both cleared waivers on Friday, and the Leafs assigned the 24-year-old winger to the Toronto Marlies of the AHL. Marincin has not been assigned as yet, but that could be related to head coach Mike Babcock’s mention after the game that he does not expect Zach Hyman to be activated until next week.
When Hyman is activated, GM Kyle Dubas will have to get the roster down to 21 players, which means that Marincin will have to be demoted and either Dmytro Timashov, Jason Spezza or Nick Shore placed on waivers to make room for Hyman’s salary to get under the cap.
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