Auston Matthews recorded his fourth career hat trick as the Toronto Maple Leafs routed the Colorado Avalanche 8-3.
The game pitted two of the hottest teams in the league against each other, but this game was all Toronto.
Goals Start Early
It started early, as William Nylander was sent in on a breakaway by John Tavares and Nylander snapped in his 10th goal of the season at 4:31 of the first period.
The fourth line extended Toronto’s lead when Nick Ritchie’s shot bounced off the shoulder of Avalanche netminder Jonas Johansson. Jason Spezza pounced on the rebound sitting in the crease behind the Colorado goalie. It was Spezza’s fifth goal of the season.
Auston Matthews tallied his first goal of the night at 14:24 of the first period. Matthews was left alone in front of the Avalanche net – bad idea – and he took a pass from Mitch Marner, pulled it back to his forehand and lifted the puck over Johansson.
Just when it looked like a perfect first period for the Maple Leafs, Avalanche defenceman Samuel Girard scored at 19:58 of the period. Girard took a pass from Nathan MacKinnon and one-timed it home for his second goal of the season.
Colorado made it interesting at 11:57 of the second period. Nazem Kadri whacked at a loose puck while on his knees in front of the Maple Leafs net. Valeri Nichushkin swiped at it, too, but the goal was credited to Kadri, the former Leafs centre who is off to the best start of his career.
At 12:44 of the second period, Travis Dermott restored Toronto’s two-goal lead, taking a feed from William Nylander and blasting a one-timer through Johansson. It was Dermott’s first goal of the season.
John Tavares extended the lead at 16:28 of the second period, lurking in the slot, he pounced on a rebound of a T.J. Brodie point shot. Tavares now has 11 goals on the season.
Matthews Goes For Three
The Maple Leafs opened the third period with Auston Matthews notching his second of the game. Matthews took a pass from Mitch Marner, after effective work down low in the Colorado zone. Matthews went across the front of the net, outwaiting Johansson, before tucking the puck into the net.
Auston Matthews completed the hat trick at 8:41 of the third period. Jake Muzzin made a nifty pass to Matthews in neutral ice. Matthews then used his speed and strength to attack in the Colorado zone, launching a wrist shot that caught the inside of the short side post before landing in the net. It was Matthews’ 13th goal of the season.
Pierre Engvall wrapped up the goal-scoring for Toronto, beating Johansson with a wrist shot to the short side. It was Engvall’s third goal of the season.
The last goal of the game belonged to former Maple Leaf Nazem Kadri. He deposited a power play goal at 16:36 of the third period, re-directing a pass from Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog.
John Tavares contributed a goal and two assists for the Maple Leafs and Michael Bunting chipped in three helpers.
Jack Campbell turned away 28 of 31 Colorado shots while Avalanche goaltender Jonas Johansson finished with 33 saves on 41 shots.
For a game that was supposed to be a big test for the Maple Leafs, taking on a Stanley Cup contender, it was not close. While the blowout nature might have been unexpected, it’s safe to say that the Maple Leafs passed this test with flying colours.
The Maple Leafs now boast a 17-6-1 record. They will hit the road this weekend for games at Minnesota and Winnipeg on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
Quotes and takeaways coming soon.
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