April 24th, 2024

Bertuzzi nets hat trick as Maple Leafs edge Avalanche 4-3

By Pat Graham, The Associated Press on February 24, 2024.

DENVER (AP) – Tyler Bertuzzi scored three times, including a go-ahead, power-play goal with 2:51 remaining, and the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 on Saturday night for their seventh straight win.

Bertuzzi recorded his third career hat trick on his 29th birthday when he took a pass from William Nylander and knocked it past Alexandar Georgiev. Bertuzzi’s goal was soon after Mikko Rantanen drew a delay penalty for sending the puck out of play.

Nathan MacKinnon had a chance to tie the game in the closing seconds, but his shot just before the buzzer was stopped by Ilya Samsonov, who finished with 26 saves.

It’s the fourth hat trick of the month for the Maple Leafs. Only four teams have had four hat tricks in a single month over the last 25 years, according to NHL Stats. The list also includes Winnipeg (November 2018), Columbus (March 2018) and Los Angeles (November 2005).

Mitchell Marner added a goal and an assist as the Maple Leafs closed a four-game trip by outscoring teams 21-11.

The contest was billed as a showdown between two of the league’s top players in MacKinnon and Auston Matthews. It was MacKinnon who won in the statistical department, recording three assists to give him at least a point in all 28 home games this season. But Matthews, who had an assist, took home the all-important win – a rare one at Ball Arena, where Colorado entered with the best home mark.

Artturi Lehkonen, Andrew Cogliano and Rantanen had goals for Colorado.

Samsonov was stellar all night. He also got some help from the net, including one where the puck caromed off the post and slid across the goal line. Just before it went in, Samsonov reached back with his blocker pad and smothered the puck.

Georgiev finished with 26 saves.

This game was the opposite of the Avalanche’s 5-3 win at Toronto on Jan. 13. In that game, the Maple Leafs stormed out to a 3-0 lead only to see Colorado score five unanswered goals. In this one, the Avalanche led 2-0 before the Maple Leafs responded with three straight before Rantanen tied it up.

It set the stage for Bertuzzi.

With three more assists, the speedy MacKinnon is averaging 2.11 points a game on home ice this season. He’s attempting to become the fourth player over the last 30 years to average at least two points at home in a season (minimum 25 games), according to NHL Stats. He would join the company of Connor McDavid (2.11 in 2020-21), Mario Lemieux (2.60 in 1995-96) and Jaromir Jagr (2.02 in 1995-96).

Defenceman Cale Makar had an assist to end a seven-game skid without a point.

UP NEXT

Maple Leafs: Return home to face the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday.

Avalanche: Host the Dallas Stars on Tuesday.

AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl

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