Matthews, Andersen lead Maple Leafs past Canadiens, 6-0
MONTREAL (AP) It took Auston Matthews only two periods to get into his groove.
Back after missing four games with an upper body injury, Matthews scored twice in the third period to help the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Montreal Canadiens 6-0 Saturday night for their sixth straight win.
Ron Hainsey and Nazem Kadri scored 37 seconds apart in the second period, and James van Riemsdyk and Connor Brown also scored for Toronto. Frederik Andersen stopped 33 shots for his second straight shutout.
Matthews’ first goal, when he was left alone in front to take a pass from Mitch Marner and score, put the Maple Leafs up 5-0 and chased Canadiens starting goalie Charlie Lindgren at 8:59 of the third. His second, a rocket wrist shot to the top corner from the left circle on a rush, gave backup goalie Antti Niemi no chance.
”It feels good to be back,” Matthews said. ”I didn’t feel too hot out there the first two periods but I think it’s all part of coming back and not playing in four games.
”There’s obviously room for improvement, but coming into this building, it’s not going to be easy. A big win tonight for sure. Our goalie was unbelievable again.”
The Maple Leafs were coming off a 1-0 overtime win over New Jersey two nights earlier in which Andersen had 42 saves.
Lindgren finished with 22 saves, giving up five goals for the second straight game. He was replaced at 9:39 of the third by Antti Niemi, who stopped three of the four shots he faced in his first game for Montreal since he was claimed off waivers this week.
”We had a good performance in the first half but we collapsed in the second period,” Montreal coach Claude Julien said. ”The scoreline says it all.”
The Canadiens controlled most of the play in the opening 20 minutes, outshooting Toronto 16-6, but couldn’t beat Andersen
Toronto coach Mike Babcock then juggled his lines and it worked. That included putting Matthews and Marner together (along with Matt Martin), a combination that has not always been effective. Marner assisted on both of Matthews’ goals.
”It went well,” Matthews said. ”We’ve got so many good players on our team, so many skilled guys that can make plays.
”Obviously me and Mitch have a good relationship off the ice, Marty as well, so it kind of gives you a nice spark when you play with a couple of buddies that you don’t get to play with a lot. I think that goes for all four lines. We got a bit of time together last year. I guess we made some plays and had a lot of fun but I don’t think we even scored a goal, so it’s nice to get out there with him and create some offence and put some in the net.”
Andersen had just made a smart glove save on Brendan Gallagher from the slot when the Maple Leafs opened the scoring with 7:53 left in the second as Hainsey got his first of the season with a shot from the point that Lindgren lost behind van Riemsdyk’s screen.
Kadri scored 37 seconds later on Toronto’s next shot, a wrister from a bad angle that went in off Lindgren’s shoulder to extend his points streak to six games.
Brown scored 25 seconds into the third when he lifted the rebound of Nikita Zaitsev’s point shot over Lindgren from the doorstep. Tyler Bozak pass went off Karl Alzner to van Riemsdyk, who flipped in his 10th of the season from close range at 8:11 to make it 4-0.
Only 48 seconds later, Matthews was alone in front to fire in a pass from Marner and then added another, his 12th, with 4:33 left when he snapped a wrist shot to the top corner past Niemi.
NOTES: The Maple Leafs, winless against Montreal the previous two years, have posted two wins in a row against the Canadiens for the first time since 2013. Toronto won 4-3 in overtime against Montreal on Oct. 14. … To mark the NHL’s upcoming 100th anniversary, six Hall of Famers took part in the ceremonial faceoff – Dave Keon, Yvon Cournoyer, Rod Gilbert, Frank Mahovlich, Ray Bourque and Denis Savard. Mahovlich and Savard went out in a Red Wings and Blackhawks jersey, respectively, but took them off to reveal Canadiens sweaters underneath. Both ended their careers in Montreal.
Toronto: Hosts Arizona on Monday night.
Canadiens: At Dallas on Tuesday night.