Special teams dominance and some overdue puck luck were the story for the Maple Leafs, who emerged victorious from their first-ever visit to Seattle on Monday night.

The Leafs were in need of the points to make something out of the road trip after a frustrating pair of losses in Calgary and Vancouver, so they’ll take the W home and look for a better standard of even-strength play against the more challenging opposition coming up later this week.

Your game in 10:

1.  It feels weird to say about a 6-2 win coming off of back-to-back losses, but this was arguably the Leafs’ worst game of the road trip — obviously not from a goal-scoring, goaltending, or special-teams perspective, but definitely in terms of their overall intensity and execution level at five-on-five.

They benefited from a couple of overdue friendly bounces around the net and handily won the special teams battle (two power-play goals for, one power-play goal against, one shorthanded goal for), but for significant spells of the game at even strength, they didn’t manage the puck well and were disjointed on the breakout. The Leafs were credited with 14 giveaways to Seattle’s six, and it felt a little worse than that watching the game.

2.   The numbers spell it out clearly: The Leafs controlled just 42% of the shot attempts and 39% of the expected goals. To some degree, it’s score effects at work, but it’s not the full story by any means, as the Leafs really only held an advantage in possession in the opening stages of the first period and then weren’t really controlling the game over sustained durations of time after that.

Now 46 games in, this was the Leafs’ worst game of the season by expected goals for percentage at five-on-five.

I don’t want to dump on it too much, though; half of their problems were self-inflicted with the turnovers, but Seattle knows they’re playing spoiler and were determined to jam the Leafs up through neutral ice. The Leafs also didn’t give up much in terms of quality chances against despite not owning the puck as much as they should have.

Good teams find ways to win games with their special teams sometimes, and the Leafs’ power play ran over the Seattle penalty kill in this one. Always good when both units get in on the action, too.

3.  The Leafs’ second line gaveth and then tooketh away in the first period after the 1-0 Kerfoot goal. Hitting the official with the puck before the goal against as William Nylander did with his back pass into his own zone is a bad break for sure, but he was at the end of a long shift where the line was hemmed in; turning the puck back is only opening yourself up to more problems as the Seattle forecheck re-enters the zone against a tired Leafs unit. The Leafs obviously like to regroup or reset as much as they can instead of tossing pucks away, but understanding time and place is important.

There was also a moment halfway through the second period where Nylander had a clear lane to drive the net and went for a casual loop around the net and sent a saucer pass into traffic for a giveaway. He has five assists in his last four games — the production is still there — but he definitely has another level to find, especially compared to his November/December standard. It’s not exactly surprising to see it from Nylander on a night like tonight — you can shrug it off on a Monday night in Seattle — but hopefully, he steps up the intensity level in these Pittsburgh and St. Louis games coming up.

4.  That was a nicely-executed pinch by Timothy Liljegren leading to the Leafs’ opening goal, and an equally good finish by Alex Kerfoot, who needed that one — he’s now snapped an 11-game goalless slump.

Liljegren also set up the 6-2 goal with a pass in Muzzin’s wheelhouse for his late one-timer, bringing Liljegren up to five assists in the last six games including a plus-nine plus/minus. There was the nightmare game a few weeks ago against the Rangers for him and Sandin both, but he’s been quite consistent and steady in his sheltered role.

Liljegren’s time-on-ice is still pretty limited at just under 15 minutes per game during his recent productive stretch, although that might be in line for a bit of an uptick coming up soon considering…

5.  This was a mess of a game from Justin Holl in a season that’s simply had too many of them from him, and the Muzzin – Holl pairing might have now hit the end of its rope for Sheldon Keefe and Dean Chynoweth. Holl took a penalty leading to the 5-2 goal shortly after he fell over at the offensive blue line and gave up a two-on-one against; it was a Keystone Cops routine for much of the night for Holl, and the coaching staff eventually saw enough.

In the third period, Rasmus Sandin was moved next to Holl and Jake Muzzin next to Timothy Liljegren. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the coaching staff start that way against Pittsburgh on Thursday because there are no real indications the pairing will settle itself down with more time and patience at this point. It made sense to get those Sandin-Holl / Muzzin-Liljegren pairings some reps together late in a game that was firmly in hand.

6.  They haven’t cost the Leafs goals wise, but the fourth line has slipped of late in the run of play by both the eye test and the numbers — tonight, they were at 33% CF and 28% xGF, and they’re at 43% in CF and xGF over the last four games combined. They are struggling to complete passes, get through the neutral zone cleanly, and play on offense often enough, one late third-period shift in the o-zone tonight aside.

Part of it is that Jason Spezza hasn’t really looked like himself outside of the power play, and Wayne Simmonds has slowed down after he looked rejuvenated coming out of the gates this season (one point in 10 games, minus-three in just 8:37 average time on ice). Pierre Engvall brings much-needed pace to the line, but he can frustrate you with his decision-making in possession just as often as he delights you with his speed and transition ability.

A blue line addition might prove to be the first priority when all is said and done, but in an ideal world, the Leafs could add the right scoring winger for the Tavares line, creating the trickle-down effect of bumping everyone down a slot. A possible Engvall – Spezza – Mikheyev line with Simmonds as the 13th forward puts the Leafs’ bottom-six depth in a much more formidable spot.

7.  Mitch Marner is putting up draft-plus-one junior-style numbers of late (22 points in his last 11 games), so why not pull off the breakaway drop-pass move from his London Knights days while shorthanded?

Everyone obviously wants to see what version of Marner shows up at playoff time, but the wolves were circling in this market after his one-point-in-seven-games start to the regular season, and he has emphatically answered the bell with 17 goals and 42 points in the 30 games since.

That includes 11 goals and 26 points at even strength, three shorthanded points (two goals), and 13 points on the power play (four goals) while playing nearly 21 minutes a night. He’s been truly elite in every facet of the game over the last 30.

I mostly thought this was a step in the right direction for Jack Campbell, who made an important, good early save that seemed to settle him into the game.

He didn’t have much of a chance on the 1-1 goal. It was a shame about the softy on the power play in garbage time, and the team also didn’t give up a ton of high-danger looks, but the Leafs spent a decent amount of this game in their own end and Campbell was able to kill plays and settle things down with generally sound play between the pipes.

I’d go back to Campbell on Thursday against Pittsburgh to see if he can build on it.

9.   With their first-period goals tonight, Michael Bunting has now hit the 15-goal mark and Ondrej Kase has now hit the 10-goal mark, meaning they’re playing at 25+ and 20-goal paces, respectively. Night and day difference from the Vesey and Thornton bargain-bin signings of the previous offseason.

10.  This wasn’t a particularly good game to watch overall; the arena, the team name, the jerseys, the fan base are all an intriguing draw with the Kraken, but the team itself is a dud to watch, and the player roster they’ve put together in Seattle feels like a missed opportunity this season. The game felt like an A-grade team bringing their C game to beat a D-grade opponent with bad goaltending.

The Leafs will need to return to a higher level of their five-on-five game on Thursday when they host a 30-win Penguins team that is hot and has had the Leafs’ number recently.

Game Flow: 5v5 Shot Attempts

Heat Map: 5v5 Shot Attempts

Game Highlights: Leafs 6 vs. Kraken 2