June 21st, 2024

Auston Matthews scores league-leading 64th goal in 4-2 Maple Leafs win over Canadiens

By Daniel Rainbird, The Canadian Press on April 6, 2024.

Montreal Canadiens' Tanner Pearson (70) moves in on Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov as Leafs' Morgan Rielly (44) defends during third period NHL hockey action in Montreal, Saturday, April 6, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

MONTREAL – Auston Matthews scored his league-leading 64th of the season in a four-goal second period for the Maple Leafs, and Toronto defeated the archrival Montreal Canadiens 4-2 on Saturday night at the Bell Centre.

Matthews hit the 100-point mark for the second time in his career and extended his point streak to 10 games in the process.

The 26-year-old superstar is on pace for 69 goals, one shy of the 70-goal milestone that hasn’t been attained since Teemu Selanne and Alexander Mogilny reached 76 in 1992-93. No one has scored 65 goals since Alex Ovechkin bagged 65 in 2007-08.

Bobby McMann, Matthew Knies and Max Domi also scored as Toronto (44-23-9) spread the wealth on offence. The Maple Leafs clinched a spot in the playoffs while idle Friday.

Ilya Samsonov made 24 saves. Star forward Mitch Marner had one assist is his first game back from missing 12 with an ankle injury.

Nick Suzuki – with a goal and an assist – and Cole Caufield scored for Montreal (29-35-12) in a second straight loss. Mike Matheson pitched in with two assists.

Sam Montembeault allowed four goals on 12 shots before getting the hook midway through the second period. Cayden Primeau stopped all 18 shots he faced in relief.

Canadiens defencemen Kaiden Guhle and Arber Xhekaj missed the game with upper-body injuries. Guhle is day-to-day while Xhekaj is undergoing evaluation. Montreal recalled defenceman Justin Barron from American Hockey League affiliate Laval on an emergency basis.

Johnathan Kovacevic and Tanner Pearson also drew into the lineup. Jesse Ylonen was a healthy scratch.

After a scoreless first period, the floodgates opened in the second.

Domi opened the scoring 2:21 into the period by tipping a point shot from Ilya Lyubushkin between Montembeault’s legs.

Matthews doubled the lead 17 seconds later with a centring pass that deflected off David Savard’s skate and into the net – drawing an eruption from the Maple Leafs fans that came out to the rivalry game in numbers.

Knies made it 3-0 at 7:30 as Montreal appeared to lose control of the game.

Off the next faceoff, Toronto’s Ryan Reaves and Montreal’s Michael Pezzetta – who had been jawing at each other earlier in the game – dropped the gloves in a spirited fight.

The six-foot-two, 226-pound Reaves delivered blow after blow to the six-foot-one, 217-pound Pezzetta in front of the Canadiens bench before taunting the home team.

McMann then added to Montreal’s misery with a goal at 7:54.

Suzuki got the Canadiens on the board with his team-leading 33rd by finishing off a slick behind-the-back feed from Juraj Slafkovsky on the power play at 9:05.

And with 1:28 left in the hectic period, Caufield buried a feed from Matheson in front of the net to make it a two-goal game.

Matthews nearly scored his 65th late in the third period but rang his shot off the post.

The Maple Leafs shut the Canadiens offence down in the period. Montreal pulled Primeau for an extra attacker with 2:15 left but couldn’t generate any scoring chances.

UP NEXT

Canadiens: Visit the New York Rangers on Sunday.

Maple Leafs: Host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 6, 2024.

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