William Nylander scores shootout winner in Toronto Maple Leafs win
By Neil Becker
Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander’s talent is no longer a secret anywhere in the NHL.
Playing on a team loaded with offensive forwards like Austin Matthews, John Tavares and Mitch Marner, one could be excused for overlooking the elite skills of Nylander.
Nylander, who at 25 years of age is just hitting his prime, continued his scoring prowess on Tuesday night when he had a first period goal and capitalized with the shootout winner in the Leafs 4-3 road victory against the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena.
Looking to bounce back after suffering a 5-4 overtime loss on Saturday night against the Colorado Avalanche, the Leafs continued their road trip in Vegas where once again goalie Jack Campbell was solid. Campbell, who has played himself into Vezina Trophy conversation, made 31 saves including 14 in the second period alone.
The Leafs got that early jump when Nylander scored his 16th goal of the season which came at 1:24 of the first when on a breakaway, he went backhand to forehand before scoring for a 1-0 lead.
Meanwhile Vegas, who only had six first period shots managed to make it a brand- new game when at the 13- minute mark, forward Keegan Kolesar capitalized on the power play with his third goal to square things up after 20 minutes of regulation.
Riding the momentum of that tying goal, Vegas dominated most of the second as they outshot the Leafs 14-6, but couldn’t beat Campbell. Meanwhile Toronto struck for goals from Austin Matthews with his 23rd at the 11:23 mark followed five minutes and three seconds later by Ilya Mikheyev with his fourth to give Toronto a 3-1 lead.
For a second game in a row the Leafs couldn’t hold a lead as Vegas answered back with tallies from William Karlsson with his fifth at the 1:34 mark followed just over 10 minutes later by veteran defenceman Alex Pietrangelo who on the power play scored his sixth goal of the season to tie things up at 3-3 and eventually force overtime.
Both teams had some glorious overtime chances but nothing was solved which meant both squads had a shootout to decide the extra point.
Nylander, who was the Leafs final shooter skated in on Vegas goalie Robin Lehner before calmly snapping a shot over his glove for what was the game’s only shootout goal. This was the fifth win in six games for the Leafs who sit four points behind the defending Stanley Cup champions Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers for top spot in the Atlantic Division. Meanwhile the Leafs have improved to a remarkable 21-4-2 since limping out of the starting gate with a 2-4-1 start.
There is no rest for Toronto who will next see action on Wednesday night at Gila River Arena against the Phoenix Coyotes with puck drop scheduled for 10 p.m.
1:24 William Nylander (16) TOR- VGK
Morgan Rielly (25), Alex Kerfoot (19) 1- 0
13:00 PPG- Keegan Kolesar (3) 1-1
Evegeni Dadonov (9), Chandler Stephenson (26)
11:43 Austin Matthews (23) 2- 1
Michael Bunting (14), Ondrej Kase (9)
16:46 Ilya Mikheyev (4)
Wayne Simmonds (8), Justin Holl (2)
1:34 William Karlsson (5)
Reilly Smith (18), Mattias Janmark (8)
11:48 PPG-Alex Pietrangelo (6) 3-3
Jonathan Marchessault (9), Mark Stone (9)
Golden Knights –Evgeni Dadonov— No Goal
Maple Leafs –Jason Spezza — No Goal
Golden Knights – Chandler Stephenson– No Goal
Maple Leafs—Austin Matthews—— No Goal
Golden Knights—Jonathan Marchessault—No Goal
Maple Leafs—William Nylander—Winning Goal