Auston Matthews turned the primary participant to succeed in 40 objectives within the NHL this season and the Maple Leafs fended off the pesky Blue Jackets for a 5-4 victory in Columbus on Monday.
Matthews, whose 41 objectives have been essentially the most within the league throughout the 2020-21 marketing campaign, scored on a backhand late within the first interval to extend his result in two over Leon Draisaitl of Edmonton. Then latter performed later within the evening.
It’s the third 12 months in a row wherein Matthews has reached the 40-goal mark and the fourth time since his rookie season in 2016-17. He had a career-high 47 in 70 video games in 2019-20, 41 in 52 final 12 months and netted his fortieth in his 53rd sport of 2021-22.
The victory was the primary in three outings for the Maple Leafs, who play once more on Tuesday towards the Seattle Kraken at Scotiabank Enviornment. They’d suffered consecutive defeats to Buffalo and Vancouver earlier than turning the tables on a Columbus group that has been enjoying properly just lately.
Michael Bunting obtained the game-winner with 8:39 left within the third interval after Toronto had blown a 3-0 lead.
It was the final of three conferences between the 2 opponents this season with Toronto holding a 2-1 edge. It stays third within the Atlantic Division behind Florida and Tampa Bay and is 36-16-4 total. The Blue Jackets are 28-26-3 and fifth within the Metropolitan Division.
Toronto dominated the primary interval from puck drop to horn and held a 33-10 benefit in shot makes an attempt after the primary 20 minutes.
Ilya Mikheyev snapped a wrist shot previous Columbus goalie Elvis Merzlikins from seven toes out to place the Maple Leafs forward 1-0 with 11:54 left, after which Mitch Marner padded the lead with a backhand from shut in with six minutes earlier than the primary intermission.
It was the twenty second purpose of the marketing campaign for Marner, who’s already closing in on the career-best 26 he posted in 2018-19.
Petr Mrazek picked up the victory in Toronto’s internet. He had 31 saves in a strong efficiency after giving up 5 objectives in his earlier begin towards the Sabres.
“This offers us and him loads of confidence,” Matthews mentioned. “Hopefully we will construct off this as an entire.”
Mrazek is 10-5 on the 12 months however his save share nonetheless stays south of the .900 line.
“A win is a win, proper?” Mrazek mentioned afterward. “That’s what we got here right here for and that’s what we’re taking residence. Getting a win is the No. 1 factor. That’s all that issues for us.”
Jack Campbell, who has allowed 4 objectives or extra in 9 of his previous 15 appearances, will begin towards the Kraken. He has an .883 save share in his previous 16 video games and Mrazek has been solely marginally higher.
Toronto performs at residence once more on Thursday towards Arizona earlier than it takes on the Sabres in Hamilton on Sunday within the Heritage Traditional.
Sean Kuraly deflected in a shot by Max Domi to get the Blue Jackets on the board early within the second. A bit later Domi tangled with Justin Holl and each have been despatched to the penalty field for combating.
In his fifth successive begin, Merzlikins did properly to maintain the the Blue Jackets shut. He stopped Matthews with a snow angel and Mikheyev on a two on one – each within the second interval with the rating 3-1.
Proper wing Oliver Bjorkstrand then minimize the deficit to 3-2 when he beat Mrazek with 1:11 to go
earlier than the groups headed to their dressing rooms for the second intermission.
Jack Roslovic cashed in on an influence play to tie it early within the third with one other help going to Domi. Toronto captain John Tavares was referred to as for holding earlier than Roslovic scored his tenth of the season.
Bunting closed out Toronto’s scoring with 8:39 remaining. It was the rookie’s twentieth purpose total. He and Matthews, who obtained an help, have been laughing on the bench afterward.
“We have been really jokingly arguing over who scored it,” Matthews mentioned.
Stated Bunting, “We have been chuckling a bit. I don’t wish to take a purpose away from him when he’s in a race for the lead.”
Patrik Laine made it 5-4 with 48 seconds left.
Toronto went into the battle 5-4-1 in its previous 10 video games and hemorrhaging factors towards opponents who’re already out of the playoff image.
It jumped throughout Columbus from the beginning, nonetheless, which is often its recipe for achievement. The Maple Leafs are 24-4-2 after they rating first, 22-2-2 after they lead after the primary interval and 27-1-2 when on high after 40 minutes.
The Blue Jackets have trailed in 18 of their 28 victories and have been behind by two in 5 of these video games. The 18 comeback victories are tied for the NHL lead in that class with Colorado and the New York Rangers.
Total, the Jackets are 10-7 since Jan. 27, together with a highway win over Toronto, and their final three losses coming all by a purpose. They’ve performed the Maple Leafs powerful all season – a 5-4 loss at Scotiabank Enviornment early on and the 4-3 extra time win at residence on Feb. 22.
Demoted to the fourth line, Alexander Kerfoot had a purpose to place Toronto up 4-3 earlier than Columbus rallied.
“We tried to maintain calm, not panic an excessive amount of and to stay to what was working,” Bunting mentioned. “I believe we rebounded very well.”