]While the Toronto Maple Leafs didn’t play their best hockey on Saturday, they did manage to overcome a weak start and pull together a strong finish against the Philadelphia Flyers. However, it wasn’t enough, as Toronto fell 3-2 in the shootout to Philadelphia.
The Leafs trailed 2-0 after 20, but they got two goals over the final 40 minutes: one from Travis Dermott in the second and another from William Nylander near the start of the third. Auston Matthews finished the night with two assists, while Frederik Andersen made 30 saves.
Here are three takeaways from the loss, which still saw the Maple Leafs escape Air Canada Centre with a point.
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William Nylander staying hot
After a disappointing 2018-19 where Nylander had just seven goals and 27 points in 54 games following a contract holdout to start the year, the 23-year-old is turning a new leaf this season and showing that he is worth the $6.962 million AAV he’s making with Toronto.
Nylander scored the game-tying goal on Saturday about four minutes into the third period, tapping in a Michigan-esque pass from Matthews. He also assisted on Dermott’s goal earlier on in the game to rack up his second multi-point performance over his last three games.
Not only that, but the 6-0, 196-pound center scored the Leafs’ lone shootout tally, showing off impressive dekes, patience and scoring prowess to give Toronto a shot at victory.
With five goals and 13 points through 17 games this season, Nylander is on pace to net 24 goals and 63 points, showing that he’s ready to put up the numbers that he’s been expected to and to continue trending in the right direction.
The Calgary, Alta. native has now recorded a point in three of his last five games, racking up a total of five points over that span.
Frederik Andersen comes up big
Although Andersen couldn’t shut down the Flyers in the shootout, he was one of the reasons that the Leafs managed a point out of their matchup with Philly.
After giving up two goals on eight shots in the first period, the Danish netminder was a force to be reckoned with for the remainder of the night, able to shut the Flyers out for the final 40 minutes of play.
Displaying great awareness, vision, lateral movement and reaction time, Andersen shut down a number of chances and stopped the remaining 24 shots he faced over the course of regulation and 3-on-3 OT to keep Toronto in it until the end.
Through 14 games now, the 30-year-old is 9-2-1 with a 2.62 GAA and .916 save percentage. Prior to this game, he’d won his three last starts and four of his last five. Andersen also hasn’t fallen in regulation since Oct. 10 and is 7-0-2 since then.
Auston Matthews shows off skill
With two assists in Saturday’s loss, Matthews was able to extend his point streak to three games and has points in six of his last seven games.
And of course, the 22-year-old was able to contribute in style on Saturday. His first point came on a secondary assist, which helped the Leafs get into the zone and Dermott cut the lead in half in the second. But it was his second — a primary assist — that took over highlight reels.
“The Michigan” is being attempted more and more after Carolina Hurricanes forward Andrei Svechnikov became the first NHLer to ever score on the attempt. Matthews looked as if he was going to try to score the lacrosse-style goal against Philadelphia. Instead, he snuck an impressive pass to Nylander, who was able to put it past Brian Elliott to tie the game up, 2-2.
Matthews now has 13 goals and 21 points on the season, which ranks him tied for eighth among all NHL skaters. No. 34 and is producing 1.17 points per game.