More rest for the weary Leafs

HOCKEY

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - JONAS SIEGEL TORONTO

Coach Mike Bab­cock lets the team take it easy ahead tilt with the Isles.

— Aus­ton Matthews scored twice and Fred­erik An­der­sen won his 100th ca­reer game as the Toronto Maple Leafs emerged with a 7-1 win and two key points over the surg­ing New York Is­landers on Tues­day night.

The Leafs en­tered the af­fair just one point up on the Is­landers for the fi­nal wild card spot in the East­ern Con­fer­ence, in­creas­ing that cush­ion to three (63 to 60) with the vic­tory. Toronto had dropped six of its pre­vi­ous eight games. The Is­landers had scooped up points in 10 of the first 14 games (8-2-2) un­der in­terim coach Doug Weight.

Matthews scored his 26th and 27th goals in the win while An­der­sen stopped 33of-34 shots to cap­ture the mile­stone vic­tory.

Josh Leivo had a ca­reer-high three points (one goal and two as­sists) in the win, Nazem Kadri and Wil­liam Ny­lan­der also chipped in with two points apiece (goal and as­sist). Toronto (26-18-11) hit a sea­son-high for goals this sea­son in the win, Tyler Bozak and Matt Hun­wick both find­ing the net as well.

Ja­son Chimera scored the lone goal for New York (25-20-10). Thomas Greiss and Jean-Fran­cois Berube yielded seven goals on 41 shots in de­feat.

Start­ing slow in their pre­vi­ous two games (both losses), the Leafs de­cided to change up their rou­tine ahead of the game, opt­ing not to hold a morn­ing skate.

“We just thought it was the best thing for us,” head coach Mike Bab­cock said.

The switch-up spurred the de­sired re­sult against the Is­landers, the Leafs rac­ing out to a 2-0 lead af­ter 20 min­utes.

Leivo started the scor­ing just past the mid­way point of the pe­riod, rip­ping a shot from the top of the left cir­cle past Greiss. The 23-year-old Leivo, scor­ing his first goal of the sea­son, cap­i­tal­ized when the pass­ing at­tempt of Is­landers de­fence­man Adam Pelech went astray.

Leivo was get­ting a chance to play with rookie winger Nikita Sosh­nikov side­lined. Kadri added to the lead with 32 sec­onds left in the pe­riod, the 26-year-old inadvertently de­flect­ing a Nikita Zait­sev point shot into the empty cage be­hind Greiss. The goal was Kadri’s first in the past 10 games and 21st of the sea­son.

New York, which won the first two meet­ings be­tween the teams this sea­son (in­clud­ing a 6-5 over­time de­feat one week ear­lier), had its share of de­cent op­por­tu­ni­ties early on, twice hit­ting posts on shots from Brock Nel­son and Josh Bailey.

The Leafs head to Colum­bus on Wed­nes­day to com­plete their 13th back-to­back of the sea­son. The club is 9-2-2 on the first night and only 4-7-1 on the sec­ond.

FRANK GUNN, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Maple Leafs winger Matt Martin cel­e­brates a goal as Is­landers goalie Thomas Greiss and cen­tre Alan Quine look on in Toronto on Tues­day. The Leafs won the game 7-1.

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