Ilya Samsonov continues to dominate at home behind a strong Maple Leafs team effort.

Ilya Samsonov Says he doesn’t look at the shot clock during the game.

It begins with his days in Washington, where he first jumped onto North American soil as a highly successful first-round pick, the highest drafted goaltender since Andrei Vasilevskiy. There are huge expectations on his shoulders.

But those early days in Washington did not live up to these heights.

“When I came to North America, I played really bad,” Samsonoff says. “Every game is four goals.”

Samsonov needed a change in mindset. And so, the young netminder decided to stop looking at the scoreboard and just focus on the game.

That meant that when it was brought to the netminder’s attention Thursday night that he had made an impressive 16 saves during the first period, his most single-period workload of the year, the 25-year-old was surprised. left

“I felt good in the first period, (but) also in the second and third periods,” he smiled. “The whole team played very well today.”

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“I felt good, physically good. Nothing crazy.”

Pointing to the rest of his night, Samsonov was outstanding for the Maple Leafs, making a season-high 37 saves en route to a 4-1 Maple Leafs victory. Samsonov’s only blemish on an otherwise sparkling evening was Kyle Connor’s 5-on-3 power play, which was difficult to stop even in the most favorable conditions, much less with two men.

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His perfect first period was essential, keeping the Maple Leafs in the game until that point Austin MatthewsIn the glow of his Hart Trophy form, took over the game to open the second period with a pair of goals, giving the Leafs a lead they would not relinquish.

“He was definitely locked in tonight, and obviously that’s big for us,” Matthews said. “It’s a big win for us, but it definitely could have been a lot closer.”

Throughout the contest, Samsonov looked athletic, energetic and sharp, while still showing his nerves on the odd rebound — “I’m playing a little bit like (I have) two blockers today!” Samsonov joked post-game – looking like the netminder the club envisioned batting at when they signed him to a one-year ‘show-me’ deal last summer.

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“You could tell he was really composed and calm in net, that gave us confidence as well,” Michael Bunting Added, a key contributor to Syria with core support. “We’re really happy to have him step up there.”

A seemingly formidable team leads the Maple Leafs to 28-11-7, their 63 points four clear of the rapidly climbing Tampa Bay Lightning.

“That was big for us,” Mitch Marner said of the team’s effort. “Sammy made some big saves, I thought we did a good job in the second period… and when we needed a save, Sammy was there to make it.”

Samsonov’s spectacular exhibition also adds to the knowledge of a strange division campaign that continues to hold the residents of Magnitogorsk together. Boasting a phenomenal .938 save percentage at Scotiabank Arena, Samsonov is now tied with Vezina contenders Ilya Sorokin and Connor Hellebuyck atop the NHL leaderboard in home save percentage (minimum 13 GP).

On the road? He’s hitting a modest .887, 58th in hits in six or more games played on the road.

Head coach Sheldon Keefe has no idea why that might be, but he certainly doesn’t mind, especially given that both of his netminders have found their groove in their respective roles. has taken

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“He was very good in that first period. I thought we were on our heels with the pace and pace he played,” said the Toronto bench boss. “So Sammy had to be really strong.”

“A lot of the shots he faced were straight – still dangerous – but we didn’t allow too much in terms of side-by-side or him getting behind us cleanly. That gave him some really good action. allowed to do, get involved in, and engage in some seemingly dangerous situations, and he was really solid.



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