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Samsonov, ZAR, Marner & Acciari

Wayne Simmonds Toronto Maple Leafs

Last night, the Toronto Maple Leafs beat a tough Carolina Hurricanes team by a score of 5-2. Despite the high score, the game had a playoff feel to it. Tonight, the Maple Leafs head to Ottawa on their back-to-back to play the Senators.

It could be an interesting game between the Maple Leafs and the Senators. Despite their recent struggles, the Senators have shown that they can be a dangerous team when they’re playing well. Wayne Simmonds will be in the Maple Leafs’ lineup tonight, so there must be some anticipation (or potential) for physical play.

Wayne Simmonds, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

As the Maple Leafs continue to battle for the home-ice advantage, winning games remains crucial. The Senators will be looking to get back on track and keep their playoff hopes alive, and the Maple Leafs will be looking to continue their push toward the postseason.

Item One: Ilya Samsonov Warmed Up as the Game Went On

Ilya Samsonov had a shaky start in goal against the Hurricanes, allowing a bit of a stinker for Carolina’s first goal of the game. It simply somehow went through him. However, he made some tough saves as the game progressed. Once the Maple Leafs had built up a 3-1 lead, he looked unbeatable.

Related: Sabres Are Blowing Playoff Chances with Recent Slide

Does Samsonov need to make a great save to get his focus in some games? After allowing the Hurricanes’ first goal, he stretched to make a beautiful pad save. That save seemed to bring him back to his normal self. The same thing happened in the Edmonton game a week ago. He gave questionable goals early, but after making an amazing stop he was fine.

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Maple Leafs fans know that Samsonov’s impressive at home this season. He now has an 18-2-2 record at Scotiabank Arena. That’s an astounding 0.864 percent winning percentage, which is better than some goalies’ save percentage. 

Item Two: Zach Aston-Reese Scores Two Goals

Zach Aston-Reese stepped up offensively on Friday night. While he’s known more for his defensive play and checking assignments, if he can add to the scoring it would add another dimension to his game and make him even more valuable to the team. 

When you look at his history, scoring was once part of Aston-Reese’s skill set. In his last season at Northeastern University, in 38 games he scored 31 goals and added 32 assists (for 63 points). He’s hugged his fair share of teammates.

Aston-Reese’s chemistry with Sam Lafferty is also a…

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