Blythe Hastings ’23
Auston Matthews scored a hat trick and had an assist for the Toronto Maple Leafs in their fifth straight win, 6-2 against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on Monday. Matthews’ third goal was his 54th this season, tying Rick Vaive for Toronto’s single season record set in 1981-82. “It’s humbling, it means a lot, just to be in the same sentence as a guy like Rick Vaive and these other guys that have come before us,” Matthews said.
“They have just kind of represented what it means to be a Toronto Maple Leaf. It means a lot and it’s extremely humbling.” Mitchell Marner had a goal and two assists, and Jack Campbell made 32 saves for the Maple Leafs (45-19-5), who have outscored opponents 30-14 during the streak. The win moved them two points ahead of the Lightning and Boston Bruins for second place in the Atlantic Division; the Bruins won 3-2 in overtime at the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday.
“It’s a big win for our team, we’re in a battle for the standings,” Campbell said. “They’re a great team, so it’s definitely nice to come in here and get two points. Now it’s on to the next [one at the Florida Panthers on Tuesday].” Matthews gave the Maple Leaf’s a 2-1 lead at 1:46 of the second period with a snap shot from the right circle, but Rutta tied it 2-2 at 5:46 with a backhand from the slot. Matthews scored again at 9:57 with a redirection from Marner to give Toronto a 3-2 lead, and Alexander Kerfoot made it 4-2 at 12:25.
“This is a big game for us, obviously,” Matthews said. “They’re a really good team, they know how to win, so it was an important game for us this point of the season. All these points count and really matter. I think it’s just a really complete game by everybody.” Matthews completed the hat trick at 7:08 of the third period with a shot from the low slot to make it 5-2, and Marner scored on a one-timer at 11:24 for the 6-2 final. The Maple Leaf’s are making a convincing argument for Stanley Cup contention.