Overshadowed by goalie Jack Campbell’s shutout performance for the Maple Leafs on Saturday night in Edmonton was the impact of their third line.
Pierre Engvall, Ilya Mikheyev and Zach Hyman led the team in several key metrics — time with the puck in the offensive zone, controlled offensive-zone entries and defensive-zone exits — in the 4-0 win. They helped make up for the absence of injured star centre Auston Matthews. And they impressed coach Sheldon Keefe, who has been searching for an energy line outside the top six forwards to wear out opposing defences.
“They had a lot of speed, a lot of tenacity on the puck,” said Keefe. “We like it on the road especially, when matchups are difficult. And having a line like that, that you can feel pretty good about … we’ll look to see that continue.”
The unit with Engvall at centre, however, isn’t a lock to stay together.
If Matthews returns to the lineup Monday, for the Leafs’ second of three games in Edmonton, it could bump centre Alex Kerfoot back down from the second line, while Hyman has most often skated in the top six with John Tavares and William Nylander. Matthews was on the ice Sunday but didn’t take part in regular line rushes. His status for Monday was still undecided. Hyman, Engvall and Mikheyev continued to practise as a unit Sunday.
Injuries and ice time for players on the taxi squad have…