April 15th, 2024

Matthews scores twice as Leafs rout Capitals 7-3

By The Associated Press on March 20, 2024.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (34) skates with the puck against Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) and center Connor McMichael (24) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Wednesday, March 20, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

WASHINGTON (AP) – Auston Matthews scored his NHL-leading 56th and 57th goals of the season and matched his career high with five points, leading the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 7-3 rout of the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night despite Alex Ovechkin moving closer to Wayne Gretzky.

Ovechkin scored goals 844 and 845 of his career to move 50 back of breaking Gretzky’s record that long seemed unapproachable. He’s now at 23 this season after scoring 15 goals since Jan. 22 to make up for just eight in his first 43 games.

But even on a vintage night for Ovechkin, he took a back seat to Matthews’ pursuit of 70 this season. Matthews scoring twice – with a third, would-be hat trick goal getting called back on a coach’s challenge for offside – put him eight away from tying Ovechkin’s career-best season of 65 from 2007-08, which is the highest since the league’s salary cap era began in 2005.

And while Ovechkin and Matthews combined for four goals in a showcase of the best scorer of this generation and perhaps his successor, they were far from the only ones lightning the lamp. Connor McMichael also scored for Washington, and William Nylander, Jake McCabe, Bobby McMann, Tyler Bertuzzi and John Tavares had Toronto’s other goals.

STARS 5, COYOTES 2

DALLAS (AP) – Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Logan Stankoven scored in the second period to help Dallas beat Arizona.

The Stars extended their home points streak against the Coyotes to 19 games at 18-0-1. They last lost at home to the then-Phoenix Coyotes in regulation on Feb. 7, 2012.

Jason Robertson had a goal and an assist, Craig Smith also scored, Nils Lundqvist had two assists and Jake Oettinger made 23 saves.

Dallas, Winnipeg and Colorado all have 93 points atop the Central Division. The Jets have played 68 games, the Avalanche 69 and the Stars 70.

Clayton Keller and John Leonard scored for Arizona, and Connor Ingram stopped 28 shots. The Coyotes are 18 points behind the Western Conference’s final playoff position with 13 games to play.

KINGS 6, WILD 0

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Captain Anze Kopitar had a goal and an assist while recording his 1,200th career point, David Rittich made 30 saves in his third shutout of the season, and Los Angeles routed Minnesota.

Viktor Arvidsson had his first goal of the season and an assist in his return from a monthlong injury absence. Kevin Fiala and Phillip Danault also had a goal and an assist as the Kings wrapped up back-to-back home victories by a combined 12-2 over the past two days.

Matt Roy and Jordan Spence also scored for LA, while Rittich was solid in the backup goalie’s seventh career shutout and third in his last 10 starts.

The 36-year-old Kopitar became the 52nd player in NHL history to score 1,200 points when he got the primary assist on Fiala’s goal in the first period. Kopitar added a power-play goal late in the second, passing Dino Ciccarelli for 51st on the career scoring list.

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