NHL: Auston Matthews flying high as Maple Leafs meet rival Canadiens

Auston Matthews will be out to extend his latest scoring streak when the Toronto Maple Leafs visit the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.

Matthews has five goals in his past four games after scoring two in the Maple Leafs’ 4-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday. The latest streak began Jan. 8 and continued after Matthews missed two games because of an undisclosed injury.

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“I think he’s always dialed in,” teammate Mitch Marner said. “He’s looking fresh out there, getting pucks in really good areas, and usually when you give him those pucks, he’s not going to miss often.”

Matthews, who is tied with William Nylander for first on the Maple Leafs with 24 goals, notched the 56th multi-goal game of his NHL career, which began in 2016-17. Only the Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin (57) has more over that span.

Marner also scored against Winnipeg to extend his home point streak to 20 games. Michael Bunting had two assists.

Ilya Samsonov made 37 saves and continued a return to his early-season form after a rough patch that saw him allow three or more goals in four straight starts.

“I like it was a win, first off. Two points were great for us,” Samsonov said. “I like it how the team was moving and how the defensemen were in the defensive zone. It was a very good job today, we stayed strong, we stayed focused on the game. … Two points and we keep rolling.”

Maple Leafs defenseman Timothy Liljegren left the game at 13:35 of the third period after a shot hit him on the head but he might be able to return Saturday.

The Canadiens were playing some of their best hockey, winning three of four — including two straight for the first time since Nov. 23-25 — before losing 6-2 to the Florida Panthers on Thursday night.

Rem Pitlick had a goal and an assist for the Canadiens, who were done in by the Panthers’ five-goal second period, four of which came on the power play.

“We took two too-many-men penalties. There is no excuse for that,” Montreal coach Martin St. Louis said. “That’s a lack of alertness by the players for those penalties. After the first period, we were managing the game, and in the second we shot ourselves in the foot.”

Sam Montembeault made his sixth straight start and stopped 28 of 33 shots in the first two periods. Cayden Primeau relieved him and made six saves on seven shots in the third period.

Pitlick and Josh Anderson scored third-period goals as the Canadiens finished strong. They hope to continue that momentum over a five-game homestand with matchups against the Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins.

“Against those good teams you’ve got to play up to them and I liked how we played in the third period honestly, and for sure there’s things we can build off of for these next two games,” Montreal’s Cole Caufield said Friday. “It’s a good test. Those are the teams you want to play. It’s what makes you tougher, it’s what makes you stronger.”

Montreal opened its season with a 4-3 home win against Toronto.

–Field Level Media

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