Matthews scores twice and sets up two others as Toronto Maple Leafs beat Florida Panthers
Matthews scored twice and set up two other goals for his second four-point game of the season as the Maple Leafs thumped the Panthers 6-1.
John Tavares also found the back the net on two occasions. Morgan Rielly got four assists for his second four-point night of 2018-19. Marner also chipped in with a goal and two assists.
“We started on time,” said Leafs head coach Mike Babcock, whose team has outscored opponents 13-3 over its last two games. “We did things the way you should.”
Nazem Kadri rounded out the scoring with a goal and an assist. While Frederik Andersen made 25 saves.
Matthews notched the 18th two-goal game of his young career. Additionally, he now has 19 goals in just 21 games this season after missing a month with a shoulder injury.
“At times he makes it look easy. A lot of the time he makes it look easy. And this league definitely is not easy,” Tavares said of the 21-year-old Matthews. “To do it at this level that consistently is a testament to his skill set and his attention to detail.
Meanwhile, Toronto’s power play snapped an ugly 1-for-25 stretch with a perfect 3-for-3 showing.
“We hadn’t been good enough lately,” Matthews said. “Even against these guys last Saturday in Florida we were terrible.
“It’s good to get back on track.”
Henrik Borgstrom replied for Florida (13-14-6). Luongo saved 17 of 22 shots. Before getting the hook for the Panthers. Former Leafs goalie James Riemer finished with three saves after getting a nice hand from the crowd when he stepped into the visitors net.
“After about the first 10 minutes, it was just a good hockey team playing a team that didn’t look very good,” Florida head coach Bob Boughner said. “We had too many passengers.
“If you don’t have 20 guys all playing the same way, you can get blown out.”
The teams traded early chances early in the match. But, Toronto went ahead 1-0 with 1:43 left in the first period. Its dormant power-play unit finally clicked.
Marner drew all four Florida penalty killers towards him before whipping a cross-ice pass to Matthews. Who made no mistake into the open side for his 18th of the season. A team-high seventh with the man advantage.
Marner’s assist was also the 125th of his career to pass Vincent Damphousse for the most by a Leafs player before age 22.
Coming off a 2-2-1 road trip, the Leafs nearly went ahead 2-0 early in the second. But Frederik Gauthier rang a shot off the post.
Matthews put Toronto up by two when he took another cross-ice feed. This time from Rielly. He buried his 19th off the camera inside Luongo’s net at 3:50.
The star center’s 18th two-goal game ranks him second behind only Alex Ovechkin’s 19.
Matthews has just one hat trick in his career. This came in a four-goal outburst against Ottawa in his first NHL game.
Kadri had a goal taken off the board five minutes later. After it was ruled out, he kicked the puck over the line. However, the Leafs center eventually got his ninth, converting a pass from Connor Brown on a 2-on-1.
Matthews had a chance at the hat trick on a power play early in the third. But Luongo stopped his shot before Taveres shoveled home his 22nd at 2:38.
Tavares then added his 23rd after some horrendous Florida defending off a pass from Marner at 5:41.
Borgstrom got a consolation goal. This was his first for the Panthers on a power play at 10:28. Marner then banked a shot off a defender on another man advantage at 15:14 for his 10th to cap the 3-for-3 night.
“We were dry there for a bit,” Rielly said of Toronto’s power play. “You’ve just got to work through it. It was just a matter of time.”