Matthews scores 64th, Maple Leafs beat Habs 4-2

MONTREAL – Auston Matthews inched closer to the rare 70-goal milestone on Saturday night.

But the Toronto Maple Leafs offence got it done by committee with goals from three different lines in a 4-2 win over the archrival Montreal Canadiens.

Matthews scored his league-leading 64th of the season for a Maple Leafs team that clinched a spot in the playoffs while idle Friday.

Bobby McMann, Matthew Knies and Max Domi also scored in a four-goal second period for the Maple Leafs as Toronto (44-23-9) spread the wealth on offence. Not a single player produced more than one point.

“It just makes our team very deep and very hard to play against, hard to matchup against,” said Mitch Marner, who had one assist in his first game back from missing 12 with an ankle injury.

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“We got a lot of guys that can hop up into bigger roles. We’ve seen it throughout the year and now we’re using it to our advantage.”

Ilya Samsonov made 24 saves, and Leafs enforcer Ryan Reaves made his presence felt off the scoresheet.

With Toronto up 3-0, Reaves dropped the mitts with Michael Pezzetta in a spirited fight after the Montreal forward checked Toronto’s David Kampf into the boards.

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 on a high-energy night at the Bell Centre.

“I love watching him do what he does, he’s the best in the world at it for a reason,” Matthews said of Reaves.

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“He’s just an animal. Honestly, he’s a beast. It’s moments like those where you really realize how important he is to the team.”

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

The 26-year-old superstar is on pace for 69 goals, one shy of a feat that hasn’t been attained since Teemu Selanne and Alexander Mogilny reached 76 in 1992-93.

“Auston’s not a guy that really cares too much about his points, his own milestones,” Marner said. “But what he’s been doing this year has been special.”

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.

“It wasn’t Monty’s fault, it’s just bad bounces,” defenceman David Savard said. “We wanted to fight back and show what we can do, and I think there’s no quit in this team.”

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

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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.

Matthews doubled the lead 17 seconds later with a centring pass that deflected off Savard’s skate and into the net.

“He can shoot from everywhere, he’s dangerous from anywhere,” Savard said. “It doesn’t really surprise me from him.”

The goal drew an eruption from the Maple Leafs faithful that came out to the rivalry game in numbers, and jeers from the home fans.

“I kind of find it a tone of respect I guess, especially in a building like this and a big-time hockey city and fan base,” Matthews said of the boo-birds. “I don’t mind.”

Knies made it 3-0 at 7:30, off the next faceoff Reaves had at it with Pezzetta.

“Any time you fight, you hope you draw a little bit of energy,” Reaves said.

Asked what Pezzetta said to him after the lopsided title, Reaves responded: “Just a bunch of garbage, to be honest with you.”

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

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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.

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


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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