Last night, the Toronto Maple Leafs rose up to beat the Florida Panthers by a 5-2 score. The team was led by Morgan Rielly’s goal and two assists, three assists by Mitch Marner, and solid goalie play by Petr Mrazek.
It was the Maple Leafs’ second game in two nights, and the team had just come off a loss to the Montreal Canadiens. With the victory, the Maple Leafs keep themselves in the midst of a four-team race for the top of the Atlantic Division. The other teams vying for the lead are the Panthers, the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Boston Bruins.
In this edition of Maple Leafs’ takeaways, I’ll look at my three takeaways from the game.
Takeaway One: Ilya Mikheyev Is Having a Great Season
Although he only scored a single goal during the game, Ilya Mikheyev is having a great season. He scored a goal in last night’s 5-2 win over the Panthers. It wasn’t the first goal of the game, nor was it the game-winner. However, after being out so many games at the start of the season and then after not being able to score much last season – he seemed to miss on every breakaway he had – Mikheyev is on fire this season. His quickness can be seen on this short-handed goal below against the New Jersey Devils.
Ilya Mikheyev with an absolute BEAUTY on the penalty kill 🔥 pic.twitter.com/7ZnexTV68H
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 24, 2022
With William Nylander serving penance in the bottom-six, Mikheyev has jumped into the top-six and has – and will likely continue to – flourish. His goal last night helped to solidify the Maple Leafs’ lead. The 27-year-old has now scored four goals in his last six games. On the season, the speedy winger now has 14 goals and has added five assists (for 19 points) in 36 games in mostly a middle-six role.
Takeaway Two: Can Petr Mrazek’s Success Continue?
Although it’s only been two games, Petr Mrazek is back on his game. At least, he’s playing his best hockey as a Maple Leafs’ player. It’s been quite a turnaround for the Czech netmineder. Last night Mrazek stopped all but two of 35 shots against the first-place Panthers. He shut the Panthers down completely during the third period.
Wasn’t it just last week that he was put on waivers after he played so poorly? He’s responded well by putting up strong back-to-back starts. In fact, during those games, opponents have only scored two goals in each. That comes after a really poor five-game stretch, where Mrazek allows 20 goals in five games. On the season, Mrazek’s has now played 19 games, with a record of 12-6-0, a goals-against-average of 3.31, and a save percentage of .889.
Takeaway Three: Mitch Marner Sets Maple Leafs’ Record
Mitch Marner simply won’t stop scoring. Last night, Marner registered three assists to become the fastest Maple Leafs’ player in team history to reach 300 career assists. It was his 411th game.
Marner’s been on a point-scoring roll that’s seeing him average two points each game over his past six games. During that point streak, he’s scored four goals and added eight assists. Last night two of his assists were on the power play.
Mitchell Marner (@marner93) entered Sunday needing one assist for 300 in his career – he got three. His 18 career three-assist performances rank fourth in @MapleLeafs history.#NHLStats: https://t.co/jb0CwbuGcl pic.twitter.com/ltvK9R7CBm
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) March 28, 2022
The Maple Leafs’ first line is one of the most dominant in the entire NHL. Consisting of Marner, center Auston Matthews, and rookie winger Michael Bunting, the line has been leading this team almost since it was put together. Marner now has 74 points on the season and has a plus-17 rating in 56 games.
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