John Taveres scores four as the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Florida Panthers 7-5
John Tavares recorded the first four-goal game of his career. As the Toronto Maple Leafs downed the Florida Panthers, 7-5.
The star centre, who signed a seven-year, US$77-million contract with the Leafs in free agency on July 1, now has 45 goals on the season. The most ever by a player in his first season with the franchise.
Tavares, who also has nine three-goal games since being drafted first overall by the New York Islanders in 2009. He jumped into second in the NHL in goals in 2018-19. Only three away from Washington Capitals sniper Alex Ovechkin.
The four-goal-hero was pleased with the result. He said: “I just work as hard as I can and improve my game as much as I can and just focus on the process and commitment you make on a daily basis to be consistent.”
“I don’t think you try to worry about the numbers a whole lot. You just want to be productive and continue to get chances and obviously make a difference when that time comes.”
Zach Hyman, with a goal and two assists. While Patrick Marleau and Jake Muzzin provided the rest of the offence for Toronto (45-25-6). Mitch Marner had three assists. While Morgan Rielly and William Nylander added two each in front of a crowd of 19,125 at Scotiabank Arena.
Furthermore, Rielly was full of praise for Tavares. He recalled: “He plays hard. He’s not a guy that can only score from a distance. He scores greasy ones. He works hard down low. And he makes plays and he can really do it all. When you watch him work the way he does and grind the way he does, but also have his skill. It’s pretty to watch.”
Frederik Andersen made 31 saves for the Leafs. Who started the night seven points back of the Boston Bruins for second in the Atlantic Division and are almost assured of meeting their rivals for a second straight spring in the first round of the playoffs.
Jayce Hawryluk scored twice and added an assist for Florida (33-31-12), while Jonathan Huberdeau, with two, and Mike Matheson also scored. Evgenii Dadanov and Mike Hoffman each had two assists.
Rookie netminder Sam Montembeault allowed two goals on four shots before getting the hook just over four minutes into game. Roberto Luongo, who was scheduled to get the night off with the Panthers set to visit the 39-year-old’s hometown Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday, made 28 saves in relief.
Toronto entered play 2-4-1 over its last seven games, including Saturday’s 2-1 overtime loss at home to the New York Rangers, but had played better during a recent 1-1-1 stretch after surrendering 23 goals in four prior outings over a six-day span from March 11 to 16.
The Leafs got on the board early against Florida when Marleau — who suited up for the 1,651st regular-season game of his career to tie Chris Chelios for sixth all-time in the NHL — took a nice one-touch feed from Nazem Kadri and beat Montembeault on the short side for his 16th goal of the season, and second in his last 13 outings.
Muzzin then made it 2-0 with his ninth at 4:21 when he blasted a shot past Montembeault, who was promptly replaced by Luongo.