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Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander (88) battles for a puck in front of Vancouver Canucks goaltender Braden Holtby (49) during the second period at Scotiabank Arena. Photo by Nick Turchiaro /USA TODAY Sports

BLOOD, GUTS, GAMER

Nils Hoglander was a bloody mess in the first period.

The rookie winger was cruising in the slot and looking for a deflection in the first period when a high Jordie Benn point shot caught him in the visor. He left for stitches and returned to show what has made the swift and gritty Swede a lineup staple.

In the second period, Hoglander hustled to win a puck battle and fended off pressure to set up Pearson in the slot. He then went hard again to the net and with William Nylander hanging on to the winger, he still managed to get a shot away and nearly pick the short side. And then on a second-period power play, he gamely got into position and nearly had a point shot go in off his hand.


TORONTO,ON - FEBRUARY 8:  J.T. Miller #9 of the Vancouver Canucks battles against Jake Muzzin #8 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on February 8, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775608136
J.T. Miller battles against Jake Muzzin #8 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on February 8, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Photo by Claus Andersen /Getty Images

GOOD GAUDETTE, GRATE JAKE

Misfortune often brings opportunity.

With Tyler Motte on injured reserve after a sideboards collision with Nylander on Saturday saw the winger’s right leg awkwardly fold under him, the trickle-down effect Monday was the often-scratched Adam Gaudette and Jake Virtanen being reinserted into the lineup. But it’s hard to replace Motte.

He drilled Nic Petan with back-to-back hits Saturday in a seven-hit outing. Fast and fearless, he led the NHL in hits (70) and was third in club goals (5), fourth in blocks (16) and sixth in shots (29) at the time of his injury. He will especially be missed in shutdown and penalty kill roles.

“It’s a big loss,” said Green. “He’s been having a good year and scoring as well. He brings speed and details to our game and is dependable. You can count on him and I can really use that line in a checking role. But it’s going to give opportunity and hopefully they can take advantage of it.”

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