Ryan O’Reilly is on the board for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and he’s done it in style.
The newest member of the blue and white tallied his first and second goals — in his third game — with the team mere seconds apart, breaking open the scoring and kicking off a fleury of Maple Leafs offense during Toronto’s clash with the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night.
O’Reilly got the party started just under four minutes in off a slick Mitch Marner feed into the slot for his first as a Maple Leaf and 13th of the season.
Then, just 37 seconds later, the Southern Ontario product double-dipped against his former squad, springing into the offensive zone ahead of another beautiful Marner pass before showing off his hands and finishing prowess, beating Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen with a gorgeous backhander for his 14th goal of the campaign and second with the Leafs — just like that.
O’Reilly and the Maple Leafs’ new-look second line weren’t even done there, as John Tavares would add a third goal for Toronto well before the mid-way point of the opening frame, with O’Reilly fighting for a screen in front and Marner providing the playmaking heroics once again for his third primary assist jusy 7:14 into the contest.
Suffice it to say, Ryan O’Reilly seems to have found a groove with his new linemates.
Fittingly, the former Blues captain put the nail in the coffin on his former squad with an empty-netter in the dying minutes to secure his fourth career hat trick and cap Toro to’s 6-3 win.
His performance against the Sabres brings to mind O’Reilly’s tumultuous tenure with the team he spent three seasons with. O’Reilly, who tallied 65 goals and 176 points over three campaigns with Buffalo, fell out of favour with many fans, and apparently the front office, after the 2017-18 season, famously stating he had “lost his love of the game” and that the Sabres were “stuck in this mindset of just being OK with losing.”
O’Reilly was traded to St. Louis just a few months later before going on to win the stanley Cup with the Blues that very same season, while capturing the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP in the process.
Just like he was for the Blues in 2019, O’Reilly will look to serve as that missing piece to a hungry organization’s long-awaited Cup run as the Leafs look to advance past the first round and truly vault into contender status after several disappointing postseasons.
In 43 games this season, O’Reilly has registered 14 goals and 22 points, including three in his first three games with Toronto. He was acquired by the Maple Leafs for several draft picks in a three-way trade with the Blues and Wild last weekend.
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