Nylander leads Maple Leafs to 4-1 win over Hurricanes
William Nylander can’t make up for lost time with the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, that’s not going to stop the right winger from trying.
He had a pair of assists and was active all over the ice Tuesday night in Toronto’s 4-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
“I’m just trying to get back as fast as possible,” Nylander said.
Furthermore, the assists were the first two points of the season for the fourth-year forward. He missed the training camp, the preseason and the first 28 regular-season games while holding out for a new contract. He signed a six-year deal worth $41.7 million on Dec. 1, and Tuesday marked his third game back with the Maple Leafs.
Tyler Ennis, Morgan Rielly, Patrick Marleau and John Tavares scored for the Maple Leafs. This was their third win in four road games. Frederik Andersen made 29 saves.
Justin Williams scored for the injury-depleted Hurricanes. Therefore, losing for the fourth time in five games.
The Maple Leafs (21-9-1) started the night with the second-most points in the Eastern Conference. They made do without Nylander, who scored at least 20 goals in each of the previous two seasons.
Nylander didn’t have a point in his first two games back, both losses for the Maple Leafs. However, he helped set up Rielly’s go-ahead goal in the second period and then fed Marleau for a pretty 2-on-1 finish in the third.
“Every game is getting better and better,” Nylander said.
His teammates knew that he was going to be rusty, meaning that he needed a few games to get up to speed.
“He played no preseason games and he’s playing against guys who are in mid-season form,” Rielly said. “It’s a tough situation to come into. But he has done a great job. He has worked very hard. He’s happy to be back because we’re happy to have him back.”
With their top-end talent, the Maple Leafs overwhelmed Carolina. The Maple Leafs boasted a 13-3 advantage in shots through the first half of the first period and dominated the opening stanza. Ennis flipped in a loose rebound for a 1-0 lead at 8:35.
A double-minor penalty followed for a high-stick on Nylander in the first. Ensuring that the Maple Leafs momentum was stalled. Fortunately, the Maple Leafs were able to kill off the penalty but couldn’t build on their early lead.
Unfortunately Williams was able to beat Andersen for a power-play goal at 12:44 in the second period to tie it at 1.
The Hurricanes played without center Jordan Staal (concussion) for the second straight game. Top scorer Michael Ferland, who missed the previous four games with a concussion, didn’t make it out of the first period. He missed the final two periods with what the team called an upper-body injury.
“We were playing one of the best offensive teams in the league. Therefore we needed everyone on board,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said.
Rielly broke the tie at 13:51 of the second, only 67 seconds after Williams’ goal. He was able to calmly slot past Carolina goalkeeper Petr Mrazek. Mrazek made 25 saves in total, meaning a busy night for the Carolina stopper.
Rielly was trying to feed Andreas Johnsson however, Carolina’s Dougie Hamilton got his stick on the puck and pushed it past Mrazek.
Following this, Nylander stretched Toronto’s lead in the third period. He set up Marleau for an easy finish of a 2-on-1 break at 5:49.
Furthermore, Tavares added a goal at 8:29 in the third. His team-best 19th of the season.
Toronto coach Mike Babcock said the team will be patient with Nylander as he tries to get up to full speed.
“It’s going to take him time,” Babcock said.
Nylander, however, is already finding a way to help.
Following this, the Maple Leafs travel to play Tampa Bay on Thursday.