The Return Of Auston Matthews Sparks The Leafs

Published December 23, 2017 at 10:07 PM

"Perhaps having a player with the talent level of Auston Matthews in your lineup is a very good thing. The Maple Leaf had their young star back in the lineup for the first time in six games and he had an immediate impact in a 3-2 win over the New York Rangers.
Both the Maple Leafs and Rangers got off to a bit of a slow start after the opening draw, but the Leafs were able to get a puck past Henrik Lundqvist at the 17:14 mark of the first period. Auston Matthews carried the puck behind the net and found William Nylander below the right circle where he fired a one-timer in the New York net. Morgan Rielly picked up the secondary assist on William Nylander's seventh goal of the season.
The Leafs started the second period on a power play and cashed in just 50 seconds into the middle frame. Ron Hainsey took a feed from Morgan Rielly at the point and fired a laser that beat Lundqvist high to the stick side for his third goal of the year. Mitch Marner picked up his team-high 22nd assist on the play as well.
The Rangers got a gift goal to cut the lead in half less than two minutes later thanks to miscommunication between Frederik Andersen and his two defenseman. Andersen went behind the net to play the puck and had it stolen by Jimmy Vesey who then beat the Leafs net minder to the far post.
As we touched on in our game preview, the Rangers are one of just five teams that Matthews has not scored on yet in his career. Matthews crossed them off the list at 11:22 of the second period as Zach Hyman found him in front of the net where he backhanded the puck up and over Lundqvist to give the Leafs a 3-1 lead.
The Rangers looked like a different team during the third period as the home team stepped up their play. J.T. Miller cut the Leafs lead in half at the 11:25 mark as he took a no-look pass from Pavel Buchnevich from below the goal line and put a wrist shot in behind Andersen.
About a minute later, former Leaf Michael Grabner appeared to tie the game, but after a coach's challenge the goal was taken off the board because Kevin Hayes was offside on the play.
The Rangers would continue to bring the pressure for the remainder of the game, but Andersen stood tall. He made a total of 30 saves for the win.
Tonight's was especially big with the Boston Bruins winning earlier this afternoon, so the Maple Leafs will remain second place of the Atlantic Division heading into the holiday break. "

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