February 29, 2024

Auston Matthews scored 2:12 into overtime and the Toronto Maple Leafs rallied for a 2-1 victory over the Ducks on Wednesday night, squeaking by after taking 57 shots on goal.

Martin Jones made 27 saves in his second standout performance in two nights after earning the shutout over the Kings on Tuesday. John Tavares scored with just under six minutes remaining in regulation to send the game into the extra period.

Matthews delivered his 30th of the season in overtime to beat Ducks goaltender Lukas Dostal, who had a career-high 55 saves. The score came on a pass from the slot by Mitchell Marner, with Matthews delivering his game winner just inside the right post.

The goal came on Matthews’ 13th shot of the game, with his 30 goals coming in 35 games.

“He’s due every night with the amount of looks he gets and obviously just how elite of a player he is and how is able to find space and opportunities for himself,” Tavares said. “He knows where to be on the ice, to get pucks off the pass and get the looks he gets and how he can generate stuff out of nothing. He can score from anywhere.”

It is Matthews’ eighth season with at least 30 toals, tied for fifth most among U.S.-born players, Joe Mullin has the most 30-goal seasons among U.S.-born players with 10. Only six players have more 30-goal seasons from the start of their career in NHL history.

“He’s found another level here in the last month or so,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “I don’t know how many he could have had. He finishes with 13 shots and 20 attempts, so he was bound to get one and it was obviously a big one for us.”

Frank Vatrano scored for the Ducks, who lost their third-consecutive game and fell to 1-5-0 duirng a season-long eight game homestand.

The Maple Leafs lost forward Bobby McMann to a game misconduct for boarding on the Ducks’ Pavel Mintyukov in the second period. After leaving briefly when he hit the edge of the boards with his right cheekbone, Minyyukov returned later in the period.

After a scoreless first period when the Maple Leafs doubled up the Ducks 18-9 in shots, it was Anaheim that struck first in the middle period.

Vatrano’s goal at 11:41 was officially considered short-handed since it came just after a 4-on-4 situation. Before the Maple Leafs could take advantage of the extra man, Anaheim forced a turnover in the Toronto zone and Mason McTavish found Vatrano in front of the goal with a pass from the right faceoff spot.

Dostal continued to fend off the Toronto pressure, making 33 of his saves by the end of the second period while starting for the first time in four games in place of John Gibson.

“When he’s out and he’s attacking, he’s an aggressive goalie and he’s hard to beat,” Ducks coach Greg Cronin said of Dostal. “He’s not one of those 6-foot-5 guys that are across rosters. He’s a smaller guy, but he’s really quick.”

The Maple Leafs finally scored with 5:43 remaining in regulation when Tavares pounced on a loose puck in front of the Ducks goal and scored his 12th of the season on the power play. Morgan Rielly took a shot that Dostal stopped but the puck rebounded off his chest.

The goal allowed Toronto to extend its streak of not being shutout to 181 games, with the score coming on its 50th shot of the game. The run started in November 2021.

“There is a lot of belief in this locker room with the type of players we have and the team game we play that eventually we’ll find a way to break through,” Tavares said.

The Ducks were without forward Troy Terry, who was placed on injured reserve with an upper-body injury. Defenseman Radko Gudas (illness) was out and forward Ryan Strome (upper body) missed another game. Forward Isac Lundestrom (Achilles) was activated for the first time this season and saw 10:43 of ice time.

UP NEXT

Ducks: Home vs. Winnipeg Jets on Friday.

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