Home sport Ilya Samsonov leads the Leaf to a big win over the Senators

Ilya Samsonov leads the Leaf to a big win over the Senators

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Most would say the ultimate April Fool’s joke was the Leafs losing another night of hockey in Canada to the Ottawa Senators. I’d say the ultimate April Fool’s joke comes from the leaves themselves.

“Desperation” has passed a lot considering the teams the Leafs have seen over the past month. Their opponents need all the points they can muster to advance to the playoffs as the Blues and Whites have been all season.

It’s a loss that will hurt the Senators. A win would have put them within four points of last place for the Wild Cards with games on the way. A win would have greatly improved their chances of reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2017. A win was something we all expected from the Senators against the Leafs.

But they lost. The Leafs won, winning in excellent fashion with a shutout.

Looks like the hockey gods have something to tell us right now…

April Fool’s Day (here 100 points). for reports.

The first star

Ilya Samsonov

Scotiabank Arena has been Samsonov’s domain all season, but he dominated this game on the road and stopped everything the Senators threw at him.

He made two excellent saves on Sanderson and Debrinkat with an extended pad and flashing glove respectively, but also made good saves from behind. Samsonov didn’t hesitate to come out and stop the cycling disc and push the Senators behind him and try to exploit the empty cage.

The second star

Radim Zahrna

It was his first game with the Maple Leafs and his first game in the NHL since January 8. Then it became his first NHL goal since March 22, 2022 to make it 3-0 in favor of the Leafs. It was a quick goal early in the shift as Zohorna came on to replace Tavares after constant pressure in the attacking area, grabbed the ball and fired it wide of Sogard.

Tonight was definitely a chance for the Leafs to “show us what you can do.” The high pressure and solid play were enough, and Zahrna added a goal and almost scored two goals in the third. All with only 6h15 of ice time.

The third star

Michael Bunting

Great individual effort by Bunting in his 22nd of the season. Nick Holden and Ridly Greig both tried to control the puck completely, but Bunting caught and controlled the puck before spinning and shooting it.

As the match progressed, there were more turns with Matthews and Marner developing with them and responding to what they played.

Player reports

A +

Jake McCabe – TJ Brody

This defensive pair needs to continue into the playoffs. They read well and are in great places to support each other in all three areas. If Brodie hits the puck carriers with a stick, McCabe isn’t too far behind to put the body on it or nail it to the boards.

Brody was really handling the puck on his own and made great stretch passes and well-timed passes to McCabe who hit McCabe in no man’s land so they wouldn’t be sent off. In the offensive zone, Brodie is more active and jumps off the point while McCabe has a good eye for fairways and snaps when there is traffic or tries to shoot for rebounds. They are as consistent as you want defensively and ended up getting the assists getting past Zohorna.


Luke Shin

The Boxout on Brady Tkachuk is what Kyle Dubas replaced Shane with. This makes it difficult for players who are in front of the net and never stray from the physical element of the game.

Shane landed six strikes, but could have been more with the number of times he hit the opponent. It directly and indirectly hinders the player who is blocking shots while still being able to perform those short passes out of the area.

Morgan Riley

He really took advantage of the space Sens gave him in the attacking sector. Riley had been moving all night and was on the ice to get in on the game, but was able to get back in time to cancel out any abnormal runs.

b +

Mark Giordano

He made a number of wall runs across no man’s land to catch the Senators’ offside, especially on a line change. Not to mention he had six blocks on the evening even though I thought one of his best defensive plays involved no blocks at all. Ottawa was rolling in the one-on-one area and Giordano took the pass option completely off Joseph, even jumping left to put more pressure on him.

Alex Kerfoot

A really stand out night was having the puck runner from the second line drive the puck between Nylander and Tavares in moving into the offensive zone. This was rewarded with an assist on Nylander’s goal after Holden’s clear try. Kerfoot also had quick, effective attacks to pass the Senators and get to the pucks first. He made a good pass to himself off the boards resulting in a shot on goal using that.

Justin’s room

It had huge gaps in the player’s progression through no man’s land, enough to disrupt their approach to the game and cause them to regroup. Hall also had a great sprawling game on Tkachuk in the penalty kick.

Timothy Lillgren

Liljegren has implemented more stable performances. He doesn’t jump plays as much but makes great defensive plays with stride and takes shots to send long passes into the lead.


William Nylander

He was battling last, so it was nice to see him get up on the board so he could lead the team with Matthews. His first shot of the game nearly beat Sogaard but he couldn’t get enough air to rise over his pads. However, Nylander beat him in the second with a clean shot through all five holes to make it 2-0.

Fire slowly returned, and once he was moving his legs and stepping things up against the opponent as he lunged, he would return to that dynamic strength he showed earlier in the game.

Mitch Marmer

Unfortunately, Marner’s 11-game points streak came to an end. No-man’s-land was the area for a number of quick passes that led directly to scoring opportunities. The first was less than 10 seconds into the middle frame even as Järnkrok desperately played. The second saw Marner into the backboard of his stick and pushed Lillegren’s pass deep defensively towards Matthews.

Yernrock Street

He was bitten by a rattlesnake in that game and could easily have gotten away with two goals. The first was an inch game where he did everything but hit the bar by hitting Sogard to start the second half. After some kind patience from Marner, Järnkrok had an empty net to shoot at but plenty of bodies and sticks to connect with the puck.

John Tavares

The second pass goes to Tavares tonight. He didn’t get credit for Nylander’s goal but did a good job of getting Holden out of the equalizer.


Austin Mathews

A surprisingly poor showing from Matthews in the fight as he finished with a 25% lead. Based on the standard Matthews returns to, it was a relatively quiet night for him with a few bursts of energy and skating in neutral territory. Furthermore, he almost had a great shot as he nearly grabbed Sogaard’s right corner.

c +

David Kampf

It was great to see Kamf on the ice to score his compatriot’s goal in the second half. He led the Leafs center with 11 wins despite not having a shot on goal.

Sam Lafferty

Good stick pressure on defensemen who handle the puck along the blue line. Buddy Austin Watson was also funny.


Zak Aston Reese

Four strikes, including a shot on goal. He also stopped the hit and had enough gas in the tank to chase the puck and was looking for a goal into an empty net to close out the game.

The result

The final result:

The Leafs did a great job on goal. The Senators could not get very far from the dangerous area and instead relied on shots from the blue line and hash marks. When they appeared, Samsonov locked the door.

I think the Leafs Blue line in general put in a really good game and the team held their ground and took the chances they had at the halfway point, including Bunting who scored the team’s 100th goal in the second half of the season. I was very impressed with the way they handled the third quarter, especially the last quarter. DJ Smith fired Talbot with nearly five minutes remaining and the focus was not on the empty net. Only Shane attempted it, which would have been his first goal with the Leafs in 11 years.

The rest of the team played the ball smart, but used the time they could hold the puck and run the clock. Nobody made it 4-0, but they didn’t allow the Senators to have a moment of momentum or hope in the game. Not only did the Leafs win this responsible game, but they also had their seventh 100-point season in franchise history.

What’s next for The Leafs?

In the short term, the Leafs returned home Sunday to take on the Detroit Red Wings (7:00 p.m. on Sportsnet Ontario). In the long run comes the next Tampa Bay Lightning game. Now that they’ve sealed their spot, the first-round match is confirmed. And I’m sure no one saw it coming (April Fool’s Day).

(Top photo: Mark DeRosers/USA Today)

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