Matthews’ 11th career hat-trick propels Maple Leafs to 4-3 victory over the Flames

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Zita
5 months ago
After another disappointing loss for the Toronto Maple Leafs to start their four-game road trip, they travelled 300 km south to Calgary, Alberta, to take on the red-hot Calgary Flames for the second and final time this season, looking to end this four-game losing streak and get back in the win column.

First period:

Given the Maple Leafs entered last night’s game on a four-game losing streak, you’d expect them to have a lot of jump in their game in the early going, right? Wrong. Within the first 10 seconds of the game, Martin Jones had to make two incredible stops due to a Morgan Rielly giveaway in the neutral zone and TJ Brodie fumbling the puck in the defensive zone.
After they settled in, Toronto got a shot on Dan Vladar but gave the momentum right back to the Flames as William Nylander was whistled for high sticking 56 seconds into the contest. Fortunately, their penalty kill did its job and didn’t give the Flames much to work with.
However, the successful penalty kill didn’t seem to swing any momentum into Toronto’s favour. Calgary continued to look like the more aggressive team with more scoring chances, and they finally broke through just over the midway point of the period when Yegor Sharangovich tipped a Rasmus Andersson point shot past Martin Jones for his 19th of the season. The second line of Knies, Tavares, and Nylander, which I wrote about in the pregame, got stuck in their zone again, ending with a goal for the home side.
The pressure continued for the Flames after the opening goal, which resulted in another power play for them. It took 12 seconds for them to put the past past Jones again, but there was a bit of luck involved. Nazem Kadri went to one-time the puck toward the net but whiffed on it, and it deflected off Giordano’s skate, took a change of direction, and beat Jones.
With Toronto now down 2-0 and looking like the worst team out of the two, they needed to find the back of the net to end the period positively. Luckily, their best player did that on a play that looked like it was about to head back to their zone. Noah Gregor went to chip the puck into the Flames’ zone but whiffed on it. Fortunately, Gregor picked up the puck after whiffing on it, swatted it toward Matthews, and did the rest of the work, sniping his 35th of the season past Vladar.
Toronto entered the first intermission down 2-1, outshot 11-7, and heavily lost the high-danger battle 6-0, according to Naturalstattrick.com.

Second period:

I don’t know what was said between periods from Sheldon Keefe and the rest of the coaching staff, but the Maple Leafs came out for the second period looking like a different team from the first 20 minutes.
After scoring his 35th of the season to end the first period, Auston Matthews continued that four minutes into the next period on a delayed penalty. For what seemed like the first time all game, the Maple Leafs hemmed the Flames in their zone for an extended period, generating chances, and it benefited by drawing a penalty. Although they didn’t get to go on their power play, Matthews’ 36th of the season was better, tying the game at two off a feed from Nylander, who ended his four-game pointless streak.
The momentum was on Toronto’s side entering the second period, which was even more evident after the tying goal. They continued to pour on the chances on Vladar and again drew another penalty to send them to the power play this time, as Rielly got taken down by Hanifin in the defensive zone. With both teams playing four-on-four, due to Benoit and Greer being whistled for unsportsmanlike minors, Toronto had an abbreviated four-on-three power play, and they cashed in. Despite Tavares being robbed by Vladar in tight, Marner and Nylander played a quick game of catch, and Marner ripped his 19th of the season home, giving his team the 3-2 lead.
With two quick goals in the middle frame, erasing a 2-0 deficit from the first period, the Maple Leafs kept their foot on the pedal, looking for another goal. On another play that looked like nothing, like the first Matthews goal, a Knies shot from a distance fooled Vladar, and he couldn’t hold onto it, with Matthews in front of the net, he backhanded his third of the night past the goalie for his fourth hat-trick of the season, extending Toronto’s lead to two.
Now that Toronto had scored three goals in the period and attacked the Flames in waves, there was an expectation that Calgary was going to get some chances on Martin Jones, and that’s what they did. With roughly five minutes to go, they started to generate scoring chances again, and with just over two minutes to go, Andrew Mangiapane cut the deficit in half for his team.
Toronto entered the second intermission up 4-3, outshooting Calgary 25-21, and outshot them 18-10 in the period.

Third period:

Holding onto a one-goal lead entering the final period, the Maple Leafs were in familiar territory again. However, this time, they were the ones who had to come back from a two-goal deficit and scored four straight to go up by two. Unfortunately, the Flames got within one with two minutes left in the previous period, giving Toronto a difficult task in the final 20 minutes. Both teams traded chances as they tried to get the next goal. Marner was sprung on a breakaway but got gloved down by Vladar. Domi also had a mini breakaway minutes later but couldn’t find his fifth of the season to give his team a two-goal lead. Toronto kept pushing, looking for added insurance with a couple of great looks, but Vladar made some unbelievable stops, keeping his team in the game.
Toward the second half of the period, Toronto had three more great looks on the net. Vladar stopped Jarnkrok in tight, Brodie on a 2-on-0 cross-crease, and Matthews back door looking for his fourth on the night. Toronto was doing everything right but was getting stopped by a red-hot goalie in the third period. In the middle of all of these scoring chances, the Flames thought they had the tying goal off the stick of Connor Zary, but credit to Toronto’s video team yet again – they caught a hand pass from Blake Coleman about eight seconds before the goal, and upon further review, the referees overturned the call on the ice, keeping the game 4-3.
With the goalie pulled for the Flames, they would take a slashing penalty, sending the Maple Leafs to their second power play of the night. They pulled Vladar again, but time ran out, and they couldn’t find the tying goal.

Who stood out:

After a bland first period from the Maple Leafs, they turned it up in the final 40 minutes, and it was the Auston Matthews show from that point onward. Another three-goal performance – fourth hat-trick on the season and 11th in his career – helped propel his team to a win, snapping their four-game losing streak. With his three goals last night, he made some franchise history. According to NHL PR, Auston Matthews is now fourth on the franchise’s all-time hat-tricks list, tied for second among US-born players, and has tied Darryl Sittler for the most multi-goal games in franchise history. He continues to do ridiculous things.
On top of that, he has surpassed Frank Mahovlich for third place on the franchise’s all-time game-winning goals list with 56, just seven shy from tying Dave Keon for second.
In the pregame article, I wrote about the second line of Knies, Tavares, and Nylander and how they needed to be better and find their way on the scoresheet, given their offensive droughts. Well, Knies picked up his first point since the 4-3 loss to the Islanders,  Nylander had a multi-point game (two assists), and although he didn’t find the scoresheet, Tavares finished the game with a 1.95 xGF (0.84 xGF at five-on-five).
You can catch the Toronto Maple Leafs’ next game Saturday night when they head to Vancouver to take on the Canucks as they continue their road trip. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT.

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