Toronto Maple Leafs remain scorching hot
By Neil Becker
If Tuesday night’s performance was any indication, then Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell is ready to embrace the challenge of playoff hockey.
Campbell who went through some lengthy cold stretches and missed some time due to a rib injury has been rounding into form and was solid on Tuesday night where he thrilled the Scotiabank Arena fans with a 37 save performance in a 5-2 win against the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Leafs, who are now eight points ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning for second in the Atlantic Division has been scorching hot in posting an 11-1-1 record in their past 13 games.
Toronto, who for a second straight game were playing without Austin Matthews, got another strong game for forward William Nylander who set a career-best with his 32nd goal of the season. Nylander, who had a two-point performance against the Flyers, has now scored four goals and eight points in his last five games.
Also, Leafs forward Mitch Marner earned his 61st assist, which leaves him with five games remaining to try and get five more points to join Auston Matthews in reaching the 100- point plateau this season.
Looking to sweep their season series against Philadelphia, the Leafs got off to a good start when at 1:35 of the second, Leafs defenceman Timothy Liljegren from the point blasted home his fifth goal glove side to give the Leafs a 1-0 lead.
Philadelphia, who have long since been eliminated from playoff contention managed to get some momentum when a former Leaf, James van Riemsdyk had a few whacks at a lose puck and at 8:07 of the second scored his 21st goal to make it a brand-new game.
At 13:39 of the second Nylander scored his 32nd goal on a power-play to give them a lead that they would not relinquish.
Prior to the period ending they added a big insurance goal when with only 24.8 seconds remaining three veterans in Wayne Simmonds, Jason Spezza and Mark Giordano combined for a highlight-reel goal. Simmonds fed a nice pass to Spezza who on a give-and-go fed Giordano who passed back to Spezza for his 11th goal of the season.
A little past the 10- minute mark of the third period, Toronto added a fourth goal as David Kampf scored his 11th on a shot that deflected off a Flyer skate and into the net for a 4-1 lead.
Philadelphia would get one back as forward Ronnie Attard scored his second goal, before Toronto clinched the win with an open net goal at 18:27 from forward Ilya Mikheyev with his 18th to finish off another Leafs win.
In what could very well end up being a first-round match-up the Leafs on Thursday night are in Tampa Bay to take on the Lightning with puck drop scheduled for 8 p.m.
1:35 Timothy Liljegren (5) 0 – 1
Alex Kerfoot (38), William Nylander (44)
8:07 James van Riemsdyk (21) 1 – 1
Keith Yandle (16), Travis Konecny (34)
13:39 PPG-William Nylander (32) 1 – 2
Mitch Marner (61), John Tavares (49)
19:35 Jason Spezza (11) 1 – 3
Mark Giordano (25), Wayne Simmonds (11)
10:11 David Kampf (11) 1 – 4
Ilya Lyubushkin (12), Ilya Mikheyev (11)
17:24 Ronnie Attard (2) 2 – 4
Travis Konecny (35)
18:27 EN- Ilya Mikheyev (18) 2 – 5
Pierre Engvall (18), T.J. Brodie (22)