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Maple Leafs Complete Record November with 4-Game Sweep on the Road

Everything is going great for the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have won 14 of their last 16 games. Now they have to try and keep it going.

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- There's not a lot of bad things to say about the Toronto Maple Leafs these days.

Sure, they had a not-so-great first period against the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday. They turned the puck over several times and had a difficult time executing zone entries.

But when you're winning, playing well defensively and getting solid goaltending to boot, the end result was no goals allowed in the frame.

From there, the Maple Leafs found their game and slowly deflated the Ducks on their way to a 5-1 victory at Honda Center. 

Jack Campbell continued to be sensational in goal. Fourteen of his 38 saves occurred in the first period. In the second, he made some key stops, particularly after Toronto got goals from Auston Matthews and Michael Bunting.

"Whether we're down in games or up, he seems to be pulling out some really great saves and standing on his head when he needs to, when the momentum shifts to the other team," Matthews said of Campbell. "I can't say enough great things about him."

Matthews tipped a shot from TJ Brodie and scored his third goal in as many games. His three-game, goal streak is his longest of the season. All of them were even-strength, the strongest sign that the goals leader from last season is back to form after off-season wrist surgery.

"He's a complete goal-scorer," Alex Kerfoot said of Matthews. He can score in just about any way you can put the puck in the net.

"He's able to really dig pucks out of the front of the net, which is key because they're always loose pucks around there."

Kerfoot scored 13 second into the third period. After moving up and down the lineup, Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said before the opening game of their road trip that Kerfoot had settled into a role with John Tavares and William Nylander.

A role that appeared to be designed for the injured Ilya Mikheyev, Kerfoot has stabilized the second unit.

"He's been good and consistent throughout the season, but these last two games, his speed, the way he's skating with and without the puck, driving play down the ice, defending, penalty-killing, his game has just been really good," Keefe said of Kerfoot. "It's been a really nice fit with that line."

The line was the only one that stayed in tact following the team's last loss, 2-0, to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Nov. 20.

Nylander scored an empty-netter and Wayne Simmonds capped the scoring seconds after Anaheim goaltender John Gibson returned to the net.

Everything is going in the right direction for the Maple Leafs. They've won 14 of their last 16 games and extended their franchise record for wins in a calendar month to 12 after their latest victory. 

There is a commitment to defense, not unlike stretched that the team had last season. But there's also the all-business approach the team took to this trip.

Despite some temptation for a day off, the Leafs didn't take any on the trip. That continued into game day on Sunday. A 5 p.m. local start typically results in a morning off and taking care of the pre-game preparations when the team arrives at the rink two-and-a-half hours before the opening faceoff. Keefe instead elected to have the entire team come to the rink in the morning where they held their meetings.

it has all worked. And November has been great. But there's still that feeling in the back of every Maple Leafs supporter that wonders what this will mean for the club when April comes around and they stare at their recent history.

"That's why it's just  important that we just continue to focus on one day at a time," Keefe said. "Find the consistency. That's what we've been talking about since Day 1. 

"It's been a great November, the calendar is going to turn here, we're going to get back home after a long trip and have a really good team waiting for us. We just have to focus on every single day and that's what we'll do."

Marner passing ability and Bunting fitting in

Mitch Marner reclaimed the team lead in assists. He grabbed his 13th helper of the season when he found Bunting for a well executed pass.

"Mitch has great vision, one of the best in the NHL," Bunting said. :I know when it's on his stick, I've got to find one of those soft spots and then he'll find me. He made a hell of a pass on my goal tonight and he's a great player." 

Marner is like the other members of the core-four forwards who struggled in the early going. His play-making ability has returned to previous levels and Bunting appeared to have found a home with Matthews and Marner on the top line after bouncing around the lineup.

No clarity on Kase

All of the Maple Leafs scratches and Campbell took part in a 9:30am skate before the game. Ondrej Kase was not one of those players as he recovers from a concussion.

Given Kase's concussion history, Keefe was if there was a recurrence on that front.

"There's no clarity on that right now but that has not been designated as the case," Keefe said. "He continues to work out, he worked out again here this morning. It's more that when we decided we were going to be cautious with it, we thought let's be cautious until we get all the way home."

Kase's rough and tumble play at the net has led to various injuries throughout his career. He last logged 13:52 of ice time and recorded an assist in a 6-2 win against the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday.



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