In their first game back from the All-Star break, Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner picked up right where they left off.
The Leafs were down 1-0 against the Carolina Hurricanes in the final minutes of the second period. They already played through a dreary first period with the only highlight in their favor being Wayne Simmonds beating the wheels off Brendan Smith:
They needed someone to get them out of this dry spell. It took till the dying minutes of the period for a mad scramble at the net. Auston Matthews skated away from that cluster with his first goal of the game to get the Leafs tied at 1. Originally the goal was awarded to William Nylander but in the end, it was called Matthew’s 30th goal of the season.
Shortly after that, while the clock was ticking away the final 25 seconds of the period, Matthews fired a perfect rocket shot off Morgan Rielly‘s pass to grab Toronto the lead.
His 40th game of the season isn’t even over yet and he is already at 31 goals (53 points) on the season. Last season, he ended with 41 goals (66 points) in 52 games so I am sure he’ll surpass that in no time.
Matthews didn’t have much time to celebrate. The Hurricanes came back quick with 2 goals at the beginning of the 3rd to regain the lead. Now was the time for the artist formally known as Mitch Marner to lace up his boots and get to work.
(It’s currently 4:40 AM if that makes no sense just move on)
Marner kept the Leafs in this game with a goal just over the 14-minute mark. Mitch’s goal not only tied this game 3-3 in the dying minutes of the 3rd period, but it also extended his goal streak to 8 games, a career-high for him.
That was Marner’s 15th goal of the season but he wasn’t done there. His goal gave the Leafs a fighting chance to win this game so it’s poetic justice that he was the one to win it for them in OT.
Marner rightfully earned the NHL’s 2nd Star of the Week last week after putting up 7 points in 2 games. In the past 8 games that he’s had this goal streak going, Mitch has put up 10 goals and 19 points. He had 2 goals in this first game back so I’m sure he’ll keep that exemplary trend going as the season gets back in full swing.
Meanwhile, after his two-goal performance, it looks like Matthews may be dealing with a little injury, hopefully, nothing too serious.
Overall, another good win for the Leafs. That’s their 6th straight win and they’re now 30-10-3 on the season. Marner and Matthews were the big influencers in this game, same with goaltender Petr Mrazek who stopped 26 of 29 shots he faced against his old club. I think Wayne’s fight gave this team the little jolt it needed to win tonight. The Leafs will be back on February 10th to play the Flames.
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Featured Image: Toronto Maple Leafs' Twitter