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Auston Matthews looks to continue goal-scoring stretch against the struggling Sabres

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Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Zita
2 months ago
It was a weird game against the New York Rangers Tuesday night when the Maple Leafs closed their three-game homestand. They didn’t necessarily look bad, but they didn’t look great, and the Rangers were similar. It’s tough to win hockey games when three goals go off your teammate and into your net while not getting any power plays. That’s hockey sometimes.
Well, one area that Maple Leaf fans could at least be excited about after Tuesday night’s game, despite the 5-2 loss, is the insane goal-scoring stretch Auston Matthews is on. After missing the Penguins game last Saturday, Matthews returned to the lineup to face the Rangers, and he did not disappoint. He potted home two more goals for his 24th and 25th of the season to gain possession of first in the Rocket Richard race.
After scoring six goals (back-to-back hat tricks) in Toronto’s first two games of the season, he followed it up with just one goal in his next seven games. However, it’s been a completely different story since then. The 26-year-old has scored in 10 of his last 19 games, including seven multi-goal games and one hat trick, giving him three on the season.
Although he missed last Saturday’s game, and it won’t count as an official goal streak, Matthews has scored at least one goal in five consecutive games and six of his last seven (five multi-goal games). With this recent hot stretch from Matthews, 25 goals in 28 games put him on pace to finish the season with 72 goals, crushing his previous high of 60, which he scored in his MVP season in 2021-22.
Tonight, the Maple Leafs will be visiting KeyBank Center to play the Sabres for the second time this season, and Auston Matthews has pretty impressive numbers against them in his career. In 23 career games, Matthews has 16 goals and ten assists, including four in his last two, three coming in their recent matchup earlier this season back in Toronto. To dissect it even more, Matthews has played in ten career games in Buffalo, scoring six goals and adding three assists for nine points.
It’s safe to say he likes playing the Sabres, but it won’t be an easy matchup. Buffalo had high expectations heading into this season but currently sits 7th in the Atlantic division with a record of 13-17-3 (29 points). Everyone knows teams, especially teams outside the playoffs, wake up and play Toronto hard. That should be expected tonight. After all, the Sabres defeated the Maple Leafs in Toronto 6-4 in early November.

Pregame details:

Maple Leafs’ lineup:

Matthew Knies – Auston Matthews – William Nylander
Tyler Bertuzzi – John Tavares – Mitch Marner
Nick Robertson – Max Domi – Calle Jarnkrok
Bobby McMann – David Kampf – Noah Gregor
Morgan Rielly – Timothy Liljegren
TJ Brodie – Jake McCabe
Simon Benoit – Conor Timmins
One not regarding Toronto’s projected lineup tonight: It appears that Sheldon Keefe has switched around the blue line a bit. TJ Brodie moves from the top pair alongside Morgan Rielly to the second pair (on his strong side) alongside Jake McCabe. Simon Benoit also draws back into the lineup for William Lagesson.

Sabres’ lineup:

Jeff Skinner* – Tage Thompson – Alex Tuch
JJ Peterka – Dylan Cozens – Jack Quinn
Jordan Greenway* – Casey Mittelstadt – Zach Benson
Eric Robinson – Peyton Krebs – Kyle Okposo
Rasmus Dahlin – Mattias Samuelsson
Owen Power – Henri Jokiharju
Erik Johnson – Connor Clifton
*Game-time decision
According to Luke Fox, Buffalo Sabres’ forwards Jeff Skinner and Jordan Greenway are game-time decisions tonight ahead of their game against the Maple Leafs. Skinner was just activated off IR yesterday.

Projected goalies:

Ilya Samsonov (TOR) vs Devon Levi (BUF)

Broadcast:

Sportsnet, 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT
(Stats from Hockey-Reference.com and StatMuse.com)
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