Maple Leafs Report Cards: John Tavares enjoys a 2-point night in his 1,000th NHL game

Everyone loves a nice game of bounce back.

Maple leaves looked Many Better in a 5-1 win over the Washington Capitals Sunday night after a poor performance against Ottawa on Friday.

Ilya Samsonov had a better start. Five different skaters scored a goal and 13 skaters had at least one point for Toronto. Oh, and John Tavares played in his 1,000th game with a beautiful pre-match party and his family in attendance.

To the degrees!

The first star

John Tavares

Naturally, the first star would be awarded to John Tavares, who had two points in his 1,000th NHL game. He didn’t score in his big game, but Tavares was solid from a dropped puck, which might be more fitting for a guy who’s been consistent and reliable throughout his career.

He made a great play for the pennants within the first 30 seconds of the game.

He was effective at getting to the front, keeping Darcy Quimper’s eye off Michael Ponting’s powerful goal. And he was working the boards behind the net with Ponting on goal by Morgan Riley.

The second star

TJ Brody

The Leafs are a better team – at least on the blue line – when Brodie is in the lineup. Not only does he serve as a stable presence on the back end, but it also allows Sheldon Keefe to keep his other proven pairings — Sandin-Liljegren and Giordano-Holl — together.

With Brodie on the ice, the Leafs are clean and quick in transition and spend far more time in the offensive zone than playing on defense. Step back a few seconds on several scoring opportunities tonight, and you’ll likely find Brodie’s play starting deep in Leafs territory. Just like here:

or here:

Brody’s presence next to Riley was also notable. They showed great chemistry in the way they moved the ice puck in and out of the area. Riley also looked good jumping into the play with Brody holding the line behind him.

The third star

Ilya Samsonov

This was a great rebounding game for Samsonov after a difficult – and somewhat unexpected – start against Ottawa on Friday night. It was also a strong start against the team that did not qualify it last summer.

He made 23 saves on 24 put outs and made all 17 balls in five-on-five. This was Samsonov’s seventh match in a row and he had five wins in that period. With Matt Murray out with an ankle injury, that’s Samsonov’s wrinkle, and he appears to be up to the task.

Player reports


Morgan Riley

Riley scored his first goal of the season – as promised yesterday at the annual Easter Seals event. He looked confident jumping into play all night and had all the space in the world in front of the net on his own goal.

He and Brody were excellent in all three areas. The shot attempts were 16-7 in five-on-five with those two on the ice, and Toronto outscored the Capitals 2-0.

Michael Bunting

Ponting scored Toronto’s first goal of the game, cleaning up a rebound from his deflection that was initially held up by Comber.

He finished the match with five shots on goal and was going to work on the boards and was always troublesome up front.

Pierre Engvall

Engvall was clearly feeling it tonight. He would move his feet, play and score the goal that chased Comber out from the crease in the second half. On that target – fourth for Toronto – use a quick burst of pace to create some class on the course and use that hole space to move into Kuemper’s top shelf.

He made a particularly nice feed to Nylander late in the second half, and another pass to Kamff, who fouled out in the third.


David Kampf

Kämpf had a good face-off night (73 percent), was a small dog and didn’t let Washington do much harm. He made the great play to Joey Anderson – who missed it – and also missed an open net later in the match.

b +

William Nylander

The Leafs won 91.8 percent on goals expected with Nylander on the ice at five-for-five. Simply put: he’d been living in the attack zone most of the night.

He started a one-man rush in the second half—arguably made one too many tackles—and eventually scored the Leafs’ third goal of the game, cleaning up the rebound.

He wasn’t flashy in this one, but then again, with Auston Matthews out of the lineup, Nylander stepped up to produce. In 10 matches without Matthews in the lineup, Nylander scored 10 goals.

Mark Giordano

He was on the ice for DC’s sole objective – the power play – but I thought Giordano had a better game than his partner and the outcome of the game reflected that. He walked the line well and was calm, cool and collected in the D zone.

Calle Jarnkrok

Järnkrok had some good looks in the first five minutes of the match and was credited with the key assist on Nylander’s goal. It wasn’t noticeable in the second half of the game, but the Leafs were living in the offensive zone with Järnkrok on the ice. Washington only managed one shot on goal when he was there at five-and-five. It was a good rebounding game for him after tough minutes and he gave up against the Senators last night.

Rasmus Sandin

Sandin was physically involved in this game. In the first period, he was aggressive at the forecheck and physical along the boards. At one point, he hit the boards, took possession of the puck, and went from D to D with Liljegren, who pulled them out of the area with control.

In the third period, he stepped on Conor Cherry and knocked him down as he tried to cross the line. It was one of his team’s five strikes.

It wasn’t a perfect match, however, as Sanden made some mistakes. But when he did, I thought he recovered well and remained calm under pressure, even if sometimes that pressure was on his own.


Mitch Marner

Marner’s finest moment of power play came in the second half. He controlled the puck and put his amazing stunts on display as well, zipping across the area on a single skate. Once Marner had an open lane, the puck headed home with Ponting and Tavares on the doorstep, which led to Ponting’s goal which – at the time – tied the game at 1-1. It was the first of five unanswered goals the Leafs would score.

Timothy Lillgren

Liljegren wasn’t as noticeable as his partner, but he looked solid to me in his 21 minutes of ice time. He didn’t fare well—it was last on Game Score—and the Capitals beat him at five-to-five. But he wasn’t on the ice to score against him in 10 straight games. Who should count on something.

4th line (Pontus Holmberg, Zach Aston-Reese, Wayne Symonds)

they played very Hockey low events for most of the game. The Line didn’t get a single shot on goal until the third period, but they didn’t score either. There was plenty of action along the walls, puck fights won and played in the trenches.

Holmberg drawing else Penalty – He seems to do that a lot. And Aston-Reese showed some nice hands on their third-period goal to make it 5-1.

In general, the fourth line has done its job. There are no complaints.


Alex Kerfoot

Kerfoot started the game as second midfield again tonight, playing with Yarncrook and Nylander. The streak was notable in the first period with several solid scoring chances, including this amazing pass from Kerfoot to Yernkrok early in the game.

He was solid in all three areas, with some particularly good play in the defensive zone in the third period. Midway through the third period, for example, he did a good job breaking up a pass from Alex Ovechkin right on the doorstep.

Joey Anderson

Anderson had the net wide open after a nice pass from Kamff. I caught it and missed it. It scores well by most measures, but that was the main takeaway. I’m sorry!

Justin Hall

It wasn’t a great game for Justin Hall. He made some questionable plays, including delaying a penalty he took in the second half right After, after The Leafs tied the game. Washington didn’t score on the power play, but it was still a momentum killer after Bunting’s goal.

The result

The final grade:

The shot totals were fairly even (27-24), and Washington scored the opening goal, but Toronto seemed to be in control of this game from the jump. They had a lot of energy at the puck drop, took the lead in the second half and never let Washington get back into it. Toronto was humiliated at the top and bottom of the lineup, Samsonov was consistent in the crease and the Leafs improved to an impressive 31-12-8 record.

What’s next for The Leafs?

They will return to action on Wednesday against the reigning Boston Bruins at 7:30 p.m. on Sportsnet.

(Top photo: Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)


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