Matthews' actions at the end of the game in Washington showed tremendous character

Published April 25, 2022 at 10:28
BY RYAN SMITHERAM
Questionable to play after Saturday nights game, Auston Matthews did in fact play Sunday against the Capitals. While he didn't score during the game or shootout, he did contribute 2 assists, including on the tying goal scored by Jason Spezza with just under a minute to go.

At the end of the game, after Alexander Kerfoot scored the shootout winner, everyone on the bench made a race for him to celebrate the win. One guy, however, went the opposite way as everyone else. Matthews skated towards rookie Erik Kallgren instead of following the team towards Kerfoot, showing the rookie that his effort throughout the game not only helped them get to the shootout, but helped the Leafs secure the win as well.

As Matthews headed towards Kallgren and everyone else rushed to celebrate with Kerfoot, Kerfoot noticed where Matthews is and as Marner and the rest of the bench skated towards him, Kerfoot attempted to skate up ice towards Kallgren to celebrate with him.

An action like the one Matthews pulled at the end of the game shows just how far he has come maturity wise the past couple seasons. He has become a real leader and has taken the rookies under his wing to show them the ropes and make sure they have the support that they need. For Kallgren especially, I'm sure the gesture meant a lot, as he had been struggling of late after a really hot start. His win on Sunday was a character win and Matthews was sure to let him know it.



Following the game, several Leafs, including the man who forced overtime, Jason Spezza, were very complementary of Kallgren's play. His puck-tracking, compete, poise and strong positional play really stood out as a huge factor in why the Leafs were able to claw their way back into the game in the third period. Good for the 25-year-old netminder. He earned that one and he deserves the recognition.
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