The Toronto Maple Leafs captured a play-off spot with their 3-2 win over the Montreal Canadians on Saturday night.
The playoff berth is Leafs’ sixth in a row.
Austin Matthews scored his 57th league-leading goal for the Leafs with 27 seconds left in the first period and 58th of the season.
The Sniper opener has scored his 50th goal in his last 50 games, making him the first player to achieve the feat since Mario Lemieux in 1995-96.
Matthews increased his point streak to 16 games (21 goals, 10 assists), while linemate Mitch Marner’s runs are now in 13 contests (eight goals, 20 assists).
John Tavares also scored for Toronto (47-19-6), securing a play-off spot for the sixth consecutive season and 100 points in the standings. Eric Calgren made 24 saves.
Cole Cofield and Joel Edmundson answered for Montreal (20-41-11). Jack Allen stopped the first 14 shots he faced before taking an apparent leg injury when he stretched in vain for Matthews’ first night. Sam Montembelt has made 23 stops the rest of the way.
Matthews set a Toronto singles record for the 55th and 56th time in a 4-3 overtime win in Dallas on Thursday 2021-22.
Rick Vive, who has held the 54-goal franchise mark in a campaign for 40 years, scored 50 before becoming the first NHL player in 26 years to personally congratulate the 24-year-old at Scotiabank Arena early Saturday. 50
“It’s hard to understand,” Tavares said after the morning skate. “It’s really awesome.”
Mathews is now on pace for 67 goals in his 77-game season – he missed three tournaments due to a wrist injury and two due to suspension last month – and could be the first player to score 65 since Alex Ovechkin in 2007-08. .
Steven Stamcos was the last NHL player to score 60 goals in 2011-12.
The rebuilding Canadians, who destroyed Leafs in their last two meetings at the Bell Center, faced an early embankment, holding Allen’s fortress before hitting Matthews at 13:32 in the first period after Toronto defender Mark Giordano’s centering pass. Montreal blue-liner Joel Edmundson. Allen distorted his body to save early, but was kind to Matthews for burying his 50th goal in the last 50 games to match Lemieux.
Montembult replaces the ailing Allen, but 27 seconds later Mathews was unable to do anything in the first shot of his face under the netminder glove of his 58th expedition.
Calgren had to stop Nick Suzuki’s short-handed chance and Coffield breakac from the penalty box before William Nylander then hit the post in the Toronto power play.
Before boarding the Montreal board, Montembult made some great stops to keep the score at 2-0 at the start of the second. Coffield played an incredible game to extend a sequence to keep Pak at the Leafs’ blue line until Edmundson finally saw his second score at 5:58 on the Suzuki feed.
Tavares, whose team is battling for Atlantic Division play-off positioning, scored his 26th at 8:07 in a shot that made Canadian defender Jordan Harris 3-1.
But Montreal, which thrashed Toronto in the first round of last season’s playoffs to start an improbable race in the Stanley Cup final, came back in one with 1:57 left when Coiffield buried his 18th moments after the Leafs penalty expired.
Leafs ’top power play had a 5-on-3 man advantage for 10 minutes below 1:44, but Montembelt made a big stop to go with another Nylander post to keep the audience in one.
Montreal gets the power play late and then pulls the goalkeeper for extra attack, but Toronto kills it to ensure victory.
Note: Cofield’s goal was his 17th in his last 27 games. Canadian defender Jeff Petrie returns to the lineup after missing seven games with a lower back injury. … the Canadian hosts Winnipeg on Monday, while Toronto welcomes Buffalo on Tuesday.