William Nylander had two goals and two assists as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the New York Islanders 5-2 on Monday night.
John Tavares, with a goal and an assist, Calle Jarnkrok and Auston Matthews also scored for Toronto (29-11-8), which made 31 saves — and a key setup — from Ilya Samsonov. Justin Holl added two assists.
Anders Lee had both goals for New York (23-21-5). Ilya Sorokin stopped 33 shots as the Islanders fell to 1-6-3 in their last 10.
The Leafs, who lost 3-2 in overtime to the Islanders on the same ice on November 21, took their first lead 1:40 later when Nylander used a delicate pass to send off Jarnkrok only to score his 11th.
Sorokin saved a Michael Bunting penalty kick later in the period, but Nylander buried his second of the night and 26th overall at 16:32 after stealing the puck from Scott Mayfield in the offensive zone.
Matthews put things to bed with his 25 at 7:44 of the third on a breakaway pass from Holl.
New York, which has fallen below the playoff cut-off line, opened the scoring with 22.2 seconds remaining in the first when Lee hit a loose puck in the box for his 16th after Brock Nelson’s shot bounced off. into Samsonov’s shoulder and hit the post.
CLOCK | Nylander takes Maple Leafs beyond Islanders:
The Toronto goalie was on point several times early in the period, including a terrific blocker save down the stretch on Casey Cizikas.
Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe reshuffled his top-6 forward group during intermission, bringing together Tavares and Nylander, and placing Mitch Marner alongside Matthews.
The impact was almost immediate.
Toronto tied it at 5:07 of the second when Nylander scored his 25th of the run after some fine play by Tavares, but Lee restored New York’s lead 1:10 later with a solo tempo that fooled Samsonov before he the home team back down.
Samsonov in a race
The Russian made his third straight start and his fourth straight appearance. Samsonov entered Monday with a 14-4-2 record and a .919 save percentage, while Matt Murray was 11-5-0 with a .911 save percentage as part of the two-headed monster of Toronto goalies. “We’re in the second half of the season,” Keefe said. “It’s important to give guys opportunities when they’ve earned them. Matt will be ready when he gets back.”
New York defenseman Samuel Boldoc made his NHL debut. The 22-year-old from Laval, Quebec, has eight goals and 26 points in 40 AHL games this season. Meanwhile, Islanders winger Kyle Palmieri and blueliner Adam Pelech returned to the lineup after lengthy absences with injuries.
The Leafs opened a five-game season-long homestand and will play nine of their next 10, a stretch interrupted by the All-Star break, at Scotiabank Arena. “What I like is the playoff-like schedule where you play every other day,” Toronto defenseman Morgan Rielly said. “It’s your chance to get into a rhythm. But there’s not a lot of time to hit the ice between games or time to have long practices. If your game isn’t tuned in the right place, it can be hard to get there.” there.”
Next, the Leafs host the New York Rangers on Wednesday when the Islanders visit Ottawa to take on the Senators.