After exacting revenge on one team that has tripped them up along the way, the Toronto Maple Leafs still have another score to settle Friday when they pay a visit to the San Jose Sharks.
The Leafs will enter off a 6-2 road victory Wednesday over the Los Angeles Kings that was an impressive answer for the 5-1 thumping the Kings delivered at Toronto on Nov. 8. That defeat was one of the few blemishes over the last month as Toronto has gone 12-2-0 since Oct. 27.
The impressive 14-game run has come after the Leafs were forced to do some soul searching following a four-game losing streak that was part of a bigger stumble when they lost five of six over the first two weeks of the season. During that slide, Toronto lost at home 5-3 to the Sharks on Oct. 22.
John Tavares and Pierre Engvall each scored a goal and had an assist in a four-goal second period for Toronto on Wednesday, while Auston Matthews also found the back of the net in the period.
Matthews was playing in just his second game when the Leafs and Sharks met earlier in the season and did not make much of an impact in 22 minutes of ice time. He missed the first three games of the season as he finished his rehab from offseason wrist surgery.
He appears back on track with 17 points (eight goals), while Tavares leads the team with 18 points (nine goals). But the Leafs have not been an offensive juggernaut lately, even if their month of success and their scoring eruption against the Kings seem to suggest otherwise.
“We’ve played good hockey on the road here of late, but we haven’t gotten the goals, so we’ve really had to grind it out to the very end,” Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said. “It’s nice to have a nice cushion and leave (Los Angeles) with lots of positives.”
The Sharks are just 3-4-0 since Nov. 11 but have won their last two games, including a resounding 6-3 decision at home over the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday. It has been an up-and-down season in San Jose, highlighted by the fact the team lost three consecutive games after the victory at Toronto made them 4-0-0 to open the season.
Timo Meier’s blast from the high slot through traffic Wednesday broke a 3-all tie with fewer than nine minutes to play, while Logan Couture and Jacob Middleton each scored empty-net goals in the final 1:04.
“You could just see how happy and excited the guys were for each other,” Sharks head coach Bob Boughner said. “That goes a long way. It starts with competing, sticking up for each other, and acting like a family.”
Nick Bonino also scored a goal for San Jose. It was his first goal in 19 games with the Sharks and it came in his 700th career game.
“That was one of the happiest goal piles I’ve been in,” Bonino said. “The guys were pretty happy for me, so I felt like I could exhale finally.”
Sharks center Jonathan Dahlen did not play Wednesday, missing his second consecutive game because of an upper-body injury.
–Field Level Media