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Maple Leafs face Flyers with more work left to do

Sportsnaut
Apr 17, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Mitchell Marner (16) celebrates scoring a goal during the first period against the New York Islanders at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Maple Leafs will be out to build on a record season Tuesday night when they play the visiting Philadelphia Flyers.

The Maple Leafs (50-20-6, 106 points) set franchise records for wins and points in a 4-2 home victory Sunday night over the New York Islanders, while playing without 58-goal scorer Auston Matthews.

The Leafs will face the struggling Flyers (23-42-11, 57 points), who lost their fifth game in a row Sunday, 5-3 to the visiting Buffalo Sabres.

Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said he feels the team still has much to accomplish.

“I don’t know that it means a lot,” Keefe said about the 2021-22 team setting records for a legendary franchise. “Especially, with where we need to get to as a team when it counts the most but it’s obviously not nothing and I think it speaks to the work that this team has done and speaks to what this team is capable of.”

Said Toronto’s Mitchell Marner, who scored his 34th goal of the season on Sunday: “It’s a step in the right direction. Obviously, we want to try and do the best we can every year and to get a new record is a great accomplishment. In saying that, we still want to get as many points as we can going into the playoffs here and get ourselves in the best position we can.”

Marner has 94 points for the season to match his career best, first achieved in 2018-19.

William Nylander scored his 31st goal of the season Sunday, matching his career best set in 2019-20, and added an assist.

“It’s nice to see some results but at the end of the day that is not the big result that we want,” Nylander said of the regular-season marks.

Matthews, who leads the league in goals, did not play against the Islanders because of an undisclosed minor injury.

“Auston’s got a minor injury, I’d say at this point,” Keefe said. “He’s going to be day-to-day. Just really out of an abundance of caution, we will give him the day off and re-assess him from there.”

Keefe said that the injury happened at Ottawa against the Senators on Saturday, a 5-4 win in overtime for Toronto.

“Given the time of year and the fact it’s pretty minor and he’s going to push past it pretty quickly, we’ll just leave it at that.” Keefe said. “If it were a playoff game, he is probably playing,” Keefe said.

Philadelphia has lost both games against Toronto this season.

“There should be motivation,” said Kevin Hayes, who had a goal and an assist for Philadelphia on Sunday. “It’s the NHL. We get paid millions of dollars to show up and perform at our job. If you can’t find motivation, you shouldn’t be on the ice.”

Flyers interim coach Mike Yeo said that the problem was not a lack of effort, but execution.

“At different points, it’s a matter of puck support,” Yeo said. “But, obviously, the ability to advance the puck, to get the puck out of our zone and to get on the attack, too many times, that turned into chances against or goals against here tonight.”

In 10 games since joining the Flyers from the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Noah Cates has made a good impression and had a goal and an assist Sunday.

“I think I’ve gotten more comfortable and hold onto the puck a little longer to make some plays and make something happen,” Cates said.

-Field Level Media