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Matthews hat trick propels Maple Leafs past Avalanche


Shaved superstar scores three goals for game four

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There’s no stopping the Maple Leafs.

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Not even the Colorado Avalanche, who arrived in Toronto for Wednesday’s game at Scotiabank Arena averaging four goals per game, the most in the National Hockey League.

A clean shaven Auston Matthews recorded his fourth career hat trick as the Leafs won for the 15th time in 17 games, crushing the Avalanche 8-3.

The Leafs, now 17-6-1, have 35 points. No other NHL team has this much. The Leafs’ eight goals have been the most in a game since Dec.23, 2019, when they beat Carolina 8-6.

And for the third time this season, Toronto has had a five-game winning streak.

The Leafs made short work of Avs goaltender Jonas Johansson, who started after Darcy Kuemper suffered an upper body injury earlier in the day.

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Matthews scored his third goal at 8:41 from the third, using his patented snapshot to beat Johansson from the short side post. This completed his first hat trick since April 10 against Ottawa.

As many in the crowd of 18,931 chanted “Auston Matthews,” Pierre Engvall scored Toronto’s eighth goal.

With the Leafs leading 5-2 early in the third, Matthews got his second of the night when he fielded a major bodyhunt before defenseman Bowen Byram, picked up the puck from Mitch Marner and slipped it past defenseman Bowen Byram. Johansson. .

Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner was pushed back by Colorado Avalanche defenseman Bowen Byram in the second period. NATHAN DENETTE / THE CANADIAN PRESS

It wasn’t just Matthews who dominated. Captain John Tavares’ line between William Nylander and Alex Kerfoot was solid all night, racking up seven points.

Michael Bunting has three assists, one of six Leafs with multi-point games. Marner had two assists.

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Simply put, the Leafs took the Avs out of the building.

Still, the Avs put a lot of pressure on Jack Campbell – named the second NHL star for November – in the second period, but the home side, up 3-1 after one, still increased their lead. .

One would have expected Nazem Kadri, who entered the game fourth in NHL scorers, to end up on the scoresheet. The former Leafs center, who was named the NHL’s third star in November, did just that, bypassing defenseman Justin Holl to put a backhand on Campbell at 11:57 of the second. Kadri will score later in the third period.

These Leafs aren’t rolling, however, and a three-goal lead was restored at the end of the period.

It didn’t happen without the help of some important saves from Campbell, who has been tested with more consistency than in recent games.

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Stops on Nathan MacKinnon, Logan O’Connor and Alex Newhook stood out.

Travis Dermott scored for the first time in 35 games, dating back to April 2 in Winnipeg, when his slap shot passed through Johansson at 12:44, less than a minute after Kadri’s goal.

And it was 5-2 at 4:28 p.m. when Tavares slipped a rebound into the net as Kerfoot tied the Avalanche defender.

The Leafs couldn’t have had a better first period. Well, until the last seconds.

Toronto scored three goals in just under 10 minutes.

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Nylander, on the third anniversary of his signing with the Leafs at the 11th hour, opened the floodgates at 4:31. For his 10th goal of the season, Nylander got an assist from John Tavares, got a step and beat Johansson high on the glove side.

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At 7:57 a.m., Jason Spezza – who, minutes later, will receive a standing ovation as his recent 1,200th NHL game was recognized – threw the puck into the net after a shot from Nick Ritchie went through Johansson.

The Leafs’ best goal of the period came from Matthews at 2:24 p.m.

After accepting Marner’s feed, Matthews, left alone in front of the net, scribbled and moved to his forehand to score. It was a reminder that Matthews’ bag of stuff is bottomless.

The Leafs did not escape the period without taking damage, even though they were minor.

“(The Avalanche have) really dynamic and revolutionary forwards,” Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said after morning practice. “But the most unique thing about this group is the dynamics of their defense. It’s extremely active, extremely fast. They play games all over the ice.

Colorado’s first goal came from the stick of defenseman Samuel Girard, who landed a shot against Campbell at 19:58.

It was an Avs defensive player’s 21st goal in 2021-22, the most important in the NHL.

tkoshan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/koshtorontosun

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