July 20th, 2024

Domi, Jones help Maple Leafs pummel Penguins 7-0

By Tim Wharnsby, The Canadian Press on December 16, 2023.

Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Timothy Liljegren (37) holds off Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby (87) as Leafs goaltender Martin Jones (31) makes a save during second period NHL action in Toronto on Saturday Dec. 16, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

TORONTO – Max Domi enjoyed a three-point game in the Toronto Maple Leafs throttling of the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday.

But strong performances from goalie Martin Jones, 27-year-old rookie Bobby McMann and rookie Matthew Knies forced Domi to share the spotlight in the 7-0 blowout before 18,921.

The Maple Leafs (16-6-6) victory stopped the Penguins’ (13-13-3) two-game win streak and spoiled the return of former Toronto general manager Kyle Dubas. He departed last summer to run the Penguins.

Domi sufficiently stepped in for a flu-ridden Auston Matthews by scoring a goal and two assists and lost a tooth when slammed into the boards. The 27-year-old Bobby McMann scored his first career goal in his 17th NHL game.

Knies checked in with a Gordie Howe hat trick with a goal, assist and fighting major. Jones stopped 28 shots for his first shutout and to go 3-0 in three appearances with the Maple Leafs.

“It was a pretty impressive game from top to bottom for us,” said Jones, whose team was outshot 38-35.

“They are a high-volume shot team. They throw a lot of pucks on net. But there weren’t a lot of dangerous situations.”

This was Jones’ first shutout since he was with the Seattle Kraken and blanked the Bruins in Boston 3-0 with 27 stops last Jan 12.

The flu has run through the Maple Leafs dressing room in the past week, claiming Matthews as its latest victim. Knies also was down and out, missing the two previous games.

Domi sprung Knies for the first goal and fought John Ludvig for his first career tussle on the next shift after the latter hit Domi into the boards. This caused Domi to lose a front tooth, something he’s already scarce of.

Knies then assisted on Domi’s goal to make it 4-0 early in the second period.

“I’m not looking to do that going into games,” said Knies, who never fought in his two years at the University of Minnesota. “But I didn’t like what happened there when Max went down.”

Matthews showed up at Scotiabank Arena, intending to play. But he arose from his afternoon nap feeling unwell.

So Domi moved up from his third-line centre role to play between Mitch Marner and Knies.

Domi registered his second assist by stripping Pittsburgh’s Jeff Carter in the Toronto end to start a play that led to Marner’s 13th of the season and a 2-0 lead.

McMann gave the Maple Leafs a three-goal advantage with 1:35 remaining before the first intermission.

“I just wanted the puck to come to me in the slot,” said McMann, who added his first call would be to his parents in Wainwright, Alta.

“It’s been a long time waiting. When I was shooting pucks in the summer, it’s what I thought about.”

In an odd twist, Dubas signed the undrafted McMann after four years at Colgate University. He made his NHL debut at 26 when Matthews was forced out of the lineup with an injury against the Nashville Predators last Jan. 11.

After missing most of training camp with a knee ailment, McMann had to clear waivers before being demoted to the AHL Toronto Marlies. The Maple Leafs doubled their lead with three more goals in the second period. Domi exhibited good patience to outwait Pittsburgh goalie Tristan Jarry.

Jarry was lifted in favour of backup Alex Nedeljkovic after allowing four goals on 12 shots.

Nedeljkovic surrendered power-play goals to Maple Leafs captain John Tavares and first-year Maple Leafs forward Noah Gregor. William Nylander converted a pass from Tyler Bertuzzi at the 14:19 mark of the final frame.

BRODIE ALSO OUT

Toronto defenceman TJ Brodie also missed the game because of the flu. Like Matthews, it was the first game of the campaign Brodie missed.

This leaves Domi, Marner, Tavares, Gregor, Nylander, Morgan Rielly, David Kampf, Bertuzzi and Calle Jarnkrok as the remaining Maple Leafs to have suited up for all 28 games.

UP NEXT

Maple Leafs: The Metropolitan Division-leading New York Rangers visit Scotiabank Arena on Tuesday to take on the Maple Leafs.

Penguins: Host the Minnesota Wild on Monday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 16, 2023.

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