By Judy Owen, The Canadian Press on January 27, 2024.
WINNIPEG – Auston Matthews scored his NHL-leading 40th goal of the season and recorded his 600th career point as the Toronto Maple Leafs won a third straight game with a 4-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday.
The Jets, who lost their third consecutive game (0-2-1), registered their third sellout of the season at Canada Life Centre, but plenty of the 15,225 fans were wearing Leafs jerseys and chanting for the visitors.
Ryan Reaves, John Tavares and Simon Benoit, with an empty-net goal, also scored for the Leafs (25-14-8). Mitch Marner and Morgan Rielly each contributed a pair of assists.
Ilya Samsonov, who was in net for Toronto’s 1-0 overtime shutout against the Jets on Wednesday, stopped 24 shots.
Defenceman Dylan Samberg scored his first goal of the season for the Jets (30-12-5) and Mason Appleton added a late marker.
Connor Hellebuyck made 26 saves for Winnipeg, which has lost four of its past six games (2-3-1) since running up an eight-game win streak.
The game was tied 1-1 after the first period.
The Jets scored on their first shot of the game when Samberg beat Samsonov with a shot from the point at 4:13.
Samberg, who hadn’t scored in 76 games dating back to Jan. 12, 2023, pretended to toss a monkey off his back as he skated to the bench.
Reaves, playing his first game since Dec. 14, tipped in Noah McGregor’s shot to tie it with 51 seconds left in the opening period.
Leafs forward Tyler Bertuzzi appeared to score with 19.3 seconds remaining, but it was waved off after a successful challenge for goaltender interference. The Jets couldn’t capitalize on the power play.
Winnipeg veteran defenceman Brenden Dillon left the ice midway through the first. The team sent out a message that he wouldn’t return because of an upper-body injury.
Toronto outshot the Jets 8-7 in the first period and held a 10-1 margin after the first seven minutes of the second.
The second frame started with some scrambly plays, including Hellebuyck stopping one shot while in a sitting position with his legs straight out.
Samsonov later denied quick, close-in shots by a trio of Jets.
The Jets got a pair of power plays in the final seven minutes of the frame. They had one shot in their first man advantage, but during their second one Samsonov stopped a blast from Kyle Connor and Josh Morrissey hit the post.
The Leafs got their first power play early in the third and Tavares tipped in a Morgan Rielly shot at 1:54 to record his 13th goal of the season.
Matthews scored from the high slot at 15:28 and Benoit recorded his first goal of the season into the empty net at 18:22.
Jets forward Mason Appleton added one for the home crowd with 12 seconds remaining.
Matthews extended his point streak to six games with seven goals and three assists. “¦ Toronto has won its past five games against Winnipeg, outscoring the Jets 20-7 through those contests. “¦ Jets top-line centre Mark Scheifele was held out of his sixth straight game to take advantage of the upcoming player and all-star break in his recovery from a lower-body injury.
Leafs: Toronto hosts the New York Islanders on Feb. 5.
Jets: Winnipeg visits the Pittsburgh Penguins on Feb. 6.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2024.