Marner extends point streak, Samsonov shuts the door as Leafs hammer Ducks into last place

TORONTO – Mitch Marner is getting a lot of attention as he marches to the NHL’s longest point streak in seven seasons.

Ilya Samsonov joked on Tuesday that it was about time he got some love too.

Marner had two assists to extend his point streak to 23 games and Samsonov made 28 saves for his second consecutive shutout as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the lowly Anaheim Ducks 7-0.

Samsonov stepped into his media scrum with the team’s celebratory wrestling belt awarded to the player of the game over his left shoulder.

“Long, I’ll wait,” said the Russian goalkeeper with a grin. “I’m enjoying… I’m going to sleep with this.”

Samsonov, who missed 12 games in November due to a knee injury, also knocked out Los Angeles last week and has not allowed a goal for 152 minutes and 34 seconds.

“He’s been great,” said Leafs forward Alexander Kerfoot, who scored twice on Tuesday. “We were there when we needed them.”

A character in the locker room and with the media, Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe praised Samsonov’s dedication to his craft.

“He’s got a lot of personality,” Keefe said. “But I think what really stands out is the work he’s put in since arriving at our facility and how he’s embraced the program.”

Marner, meanwhile, is now three games behind Patrick Kane (2015-16) for the longest point streak among active NHLers. The winger has 11 goals and 21 assists during his sweltering run that began Oct. 27 in San Jose.

“Keeps rolling,” said Leafs captain John Tavares, who scored off a Marner lineup in the first period and added an assist. “We just try to focus on playing our game and what brings us success.”

Pierre Engvall also had a goal and an assist for Toronto (19-5-6), while Michael Bunting, TJ Brodie and Joey Anderson provided the rest of the offense.

Connor Timmins and Pontus Holmberg each recorded a trio of assists, marking the first three-point performance of any player’s career as the Leafs recorded at least six goals in a game for the first time this season.

“Incredible,” Timmins, who was acquired from Arizona last month, said of Marner’s streak. “Never grow old.”

John Gibson allowed two goals on 27 shots for last place Anaheim (7-20-3) before going off in the second period with a lower body injury. Lukas Dostal, who started Monday’s 3-0 loss in Ottawa, finished with 10 stops.

The Leafs have at least a point in 15 consecutive games (12-0-3) and can tie the franchise record of 16 consecutive Thursdays at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers.

The Ducks pulled off a 4–3 overtime victory in the other team meeting on October 30, dropping Toronto to a record of 4–4–2, at least among some segments of the fan base, which caused panic.

The Leafs have bounced back impressively since that low point, going 15-1-4, while Anaheim still has just a single regulation win from 30 games in 2022-23 and 3-12-2 over the last 17.

“We kind of agreed on the identity of the team and how difficult we have to be to play against,” said Tavares. “It starts with checking and defending and how that really sets the tone.

“Wasn’t always up for grabs in the beginning, but we’ve held on and things are really starting to come around.”

Kerfoot opened the scoring 1:58 of first place with his third of the campaign and the first to beat a goaltender since October 20 after scoring into an empty net last week.

Marner, who had an assist in October against the Ducks in the third game of his streak, got on the scoresheet at 8:41 after a backhand feed to Tavares so that he would bury his 14th.

Samsonov, on the other hand, had to be sharp on a few Anaheim chances, including a scramble with Mason McTavish lurking.

Brodie extended Toronto’s lead to 3–0 with his first at 12:16 of the second after Dostal replaced Gibson.

Samsonov then stopped Max Comtois on a breakaway before Bunting scored his sixth at 16:33.

Kerfoot added a second to his stats at 2:37 of the third for his first two-goal game since April 2, 2019, while with Colorado.

“I haven’t put many pucks in the net so far this year,” said Kerfoot. “Feels good to get some.”

Engvall, back from a one match suspension, made it 6–0 with his fifth at 5:42 before Anderson scored his first late in regulation.

“Everyone is comfortable,” said Samsonov. “We play very hard… we play like a championship team.

“That’s very important to us.”

GIO MILESTONE

Leafs defenseman Mark Giordano got the 400th assist of his career on Kerfoot’s second goal.

NEXT ONE

Leafs: Visit the Rangers on Thursday.

Ducks: Visit the Canadiens on Thursday.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on December 13, 2022.

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Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter.

Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press

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