On a night that had two of the front runners for The Vezina Trophy going head to head in a battle of the crease, Leaf’s nation was more focused on superstar sniper Austin Mathews cementing his name in the history books next to two Hall of Famers. The Russian Rocket Pavel Bure, and Detroit Red Wing icon Steve Yzerman sit atop the list as the only two players to score in 11 consecutive NHL road games. Mathews has been on a heater, knocking on history’s doorstep, scoring in 10 straight away from Scotiabank Arena.
The game started off early in the Buds favor, with Ilya Mikheyev potting his 6th of the season in 8 games since returning to the lineup, giving the leafs an early 1 nothing lead. Marner followed it up with a highlight real powerplay goal on a slick pass from William Nylander, giving the Leafs a two-goal edge. Ryan Reaves brought New York within one, netting his first in a Rangers uniform with some hard work down low. Michael Bunting helped the Leafs regain the two-goal lead by tipping in an Austin Mathews backhand, looking like the Leafs had regained momentum, but that was when the wheels began to fall off.
Ryan Reaves started the Rangers comeback with his second of the game, lifting one up and over the shoulder of Jack Campbell. The fact Ryan Reaves had two goals should tell you how the rest of the Blue and Whites night went. Some sloppy play by the Leafs in their own end led to Adam Fox tying things up at 3 before the period ended.
Early in the third Ryan Strome gave the Rangers their first lead of the game, chipping one in off the rush on the short side of Jack Cambell, and Chris Krieder added his 25th goal of the campaign to put the Leafs out of reach. With 2:28 left in the third, Mathews came a toe away from the record books, when he had a goal called back for a clear kicking motion that would have given the Leafs life. Adam Fox sauced one down the ice on the ensuing faceoff, putting the game to rest with an empty netter.
On a night that should have been history in the making, the Leafs saw their top sniper go minus 2 and only record a pair of shots. Now that the focus has come off of Mathews etching his name in the history books I’m sure it will be more closely directed to the teams inability to hold the lead after suffering a late-game collapse. Check out the game’s highlights below, and let me know what you think.