Friday, March 5, 2021
Sport

Red-hot Matthews, Maple Leafs roll over Canadiens

Red-hot Matthews, Maple Leafs roll over Canadiens
0views


Article content

Ask Auston Matthews about tearing up the National Hockey League in his first 300 games and he’ll likely direct your attention to the 30 points the Maple Leafs have banked in the standings.

As fun as it is to follow Matthews with a calculator, Toronto is emphasizing putting itself in good playoff position. And striving for a 10-point lead on Montreal and the rest of the North Division pack – pending Saturday night’s Western time zone games – is more vital.

Matthews figured in the first four goals as the Leafs beat the Canadiens 5-3 at the Bell Centre, part of a his career-high four-point second period. Matthews extended his personal point streak to 16 games, tied for the second-longest in franchise history, two off the record. His second goal made it 18 in his last 18 games.

And in his 300th regular season appearance, Matthews passed Dick Duff to join the top 20 goal-scorers in franchise history, tying Gary Leeman with 176 for 19th. Only Charlie Conacher’s 191 goals are better than Matthews in the first 300 played exclusively with Toronto. Meanwhile, in the NHL’s books, as Matthews missed a game last month, his official run is 13 games with 16 goals and eight assists.

Advertisement

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

To get the victory and move to a mark of 14-3-2 still required the Leafs to overturn the goal that would’ve made it 4-3 entering the third period. The first look the referees took at the replay camera was to make sure the puck crossed the line on a crease jam. But after taking his own long look during that process, Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe challenged successfully for Jesperi Kotkamieni using his stick to shovel Frederik Andersen’ pads over the line with the disc.

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

Though the start of the game was a bit reserved, considering it was another first-place clash, at least the Bell Centre was louder than it has been in the Covid era. Canadiens’ captain Shea Weber had asked for the volume to be pumped up, ironically in a building that’s usually at its loudest when a few thousand Leafs fans roll into town.

Excitement truly ramped up when Josh Anderson, the newest Montreal menace for the Leafs, caused some anxious moments around the Toronto net and started stepping into a few players, namely Jake Muzzin. Andersen responded with some big saves, including a blocker on Joel Armia, who was cursed by a rolling puck.

Carey Price later extended his arm to stop Ilya Mikheyev on the goal line, prior to his team’s double minor that triggered five early second-period goals. With one tick remaining on the first penalty, Mitch Marner saw Matthews waving his stick and sent it across the slot for a one-timer. Fifteen seconds later, before the other call elapsed, Joe Thornton had his first Leafs point that hasn’t come against Ottawa on Travis Boyd’s first NHL power-play goal.

Advertisement

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

But getting a little greedy, too many Leafs jumped into a rush with defenceman TJ Brodie, leading to a Kotkaniemi breakaway goal. And within a minute of that, Justin Holl and Muzzin were caught at the Montreal line and fresh off of clearing waivers, Paul Byron back-handed his own solo sojourn pas Andersen.

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

Matthews absorbed a heavy hit to send Marner away for the go-ahead goal and then snapped his second with Morgan Rielly getting into the multi-point mood with Marner. Alex Kerfoot, with a Jason Spezza assist, completed the scoring.

The two Zachs came back for the Leafs after missing Thursday’s win over Ottawa, Hyman up front albeit not with second liners John Tavares and William Nylander, but the third unit with Mikheyev and Pierre Engvall. Kerfoot started with Tavares and Nylander. Zach Bogosian re-joined partner Travis Dermott on defence.

Matthews had no goals in the series prior to Saturday, despite 15 shots.

“As a team, Montreal defends really well, their defencemen are strong and protect the net,” noted Keefe before the game. “Chances are a little harder to come by. (Matthews) had some really good looks through the games, it just hasn’t gone in. Their goalie has a say in that as well.”

Forward Tyler Toffoli of the Canadiens, who scored a late goal, noted the three games to date have become more abrasive, especially with the two old rivals fighting for first overall in the North Division.

“It’s not just Matthews, we’re trying to contain their whole team.” Toffoli said earlier in the day. “The more time and space we take away, the less they have to use their shots, especially Matthews.

“Last game (a 2-1 Habs win), slowly turned (intense), there were more hits and things were getting a little more rough. We have five more against them and everyone looks at the standings with everything more close.”

lhornby@postmedia.com

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.



Source link

Leave a Response