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Nylander’s 4-point 2nd period leads Maple Leafs over Islanders

Nylander's 4-point 2nd period leads Maple Leafs over Islanders

William Nylander had two goals and two assists as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the slumping 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 got 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 dropped to 1-6-3 over their last 10.

Down 2-1 in the second period, Toronto evened things up on a power play at 7:53 when Samsonov caught the Islanders on a long change with a stretch pass. Nylander quickly fed Tavares, who moved in alone and backhanded his 21st goal of the season upstairs against the team that drafted him first overall in 2009.

The Leafs, who lost 3-2 in overtime to the Islanders on the same ice on Nov. 21, then took their first lead 1:40 later when Nylander used a delicate flip pass to send Jarnkrok in alone to score his 11th.

Sorokin stopped a Michael Bunting penalty shot 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 25th at 7:44 of the third on a breakaway off a Holl pass.

New York, which has dropped below the playoff cutline, opened the scoring with 22.2 seconds left in the first when Lee swatted home a loose puck in the crease for his 16th after Brock Nelson’s shot glanced off the Samsonov’s shoulder and hit the post.

The Toronto goaltender was sharp on a number of chances earlier in the period, including a terrific blocker stop at full stretch on Casey Cizikas.

Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe tweaked his top-6 forward group during the intermission, reuniting Tavares and Nylander, and slotting Mitch Marner alongside Matthews.

The impact was almost immediate.

Toronto tied it at 5:07 of the second when Nylander ripped his 25th off the rush after a nice play from Tavares, but Lee restored New York’s advantage 1:10 later on a one-timer that fooled Samsonov before the home side pushed back.

Samsonov on a run

The Russian made his third straight start and 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 Toronto’s two-headed…

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