Knee Jerk Reaction: Auston Matthews scores hat trick, buys Tyler Bertuzzi a goal

Photo credit:© Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Hobson
2 months ago
Tonight’s game was one of those ones where you sit there mulling over what to talk about because there was a grocery list of storylines to choose from. When this happens, it usually means the game went incredibly well, or incredibly awfully. Tonight’s game was the former.
The easy place for me to start would be Auston Matthews’ hat trick (his sixth of the season if you’ve been keeping track). If not that, Tyler Bertuzzi’s first goal since December 27th off of what else but a Matthews bank pass would be a strong contender, too. Or how about Bobby McMann scoring two goals for his second multi-goal effort and fifth goal in three games? 
Even if you didn’t want to talk about any of those things, the list doesn’t end there. There’s the fact that McMann played more than Matthews. There’s Timothy Liljegren tallying three assists for his fifth point in two games and second multi-point effort in a row. There’s Radko Gudas dropping the gloves with Max Domi and turning down multiple fight requests from Ryan Reaves. And, in the midst of all of it, there’s Martin Jones holding down the fort and allowing the Leafs to unleash hell on the worst team in the league, something that’s oddly hard to ask of them. 
Oh, and before I forget, William Nylander’s first period goal marked the 500th point of his career.
Since Morgan Rielly’s suspension was announced, the Leafs have won three straight games, and aside from a couple of sloppy individual plays leading to a blown lead in the second win, they’ve played some of their tightest hockey of the season. If you’re a fan of this team, you can only hope that for once, there’s finally a bit of a tide turning in terms of this team’s ability to respond to adversity. They’ve been playing well enough on the year to keep their head above the water and they still hold the ability to secure a playoff spot, but they haven’t really popped off at any point this year. What better time than leading up to the trade deadline and in the home stretch of the season? 
The Leafs have got an opportunity here to make up some ground lost earlier in the season. They play the St. Louis Blues again on Monday, and then they have two tilts coming up against the Arizona Coyotes. Games against that particular team have given this team fits in the past, so it’ll be interesting to see if they’ve changed at all in that aspect this year. Either way, tonight’s game had to have been a confidence booster in a number of ways.

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