NHL: Leafs focused on Game 3 after earning split in Boston

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Star forward Auston Matthews made his presence felt to help the Toronto Maple Leafs capture a road split of the first two contests of their Eastern Conference first-round series against the Boston Bruins.

Matthews and the Maple Leafs will look to ride that momentum into Game 3 on Wednesday when the best-of-seven series shifts to Toronto. The 2021-22 Hart Trophy recipient was held in check during the series opener before scoring the go-ahead goal in the third period in Toronto’s 3-2 victory on Monday.

Matthews also notched two assists, recorded eight shots, delivered six hits and won 69.6 percent of his faceoffs (16 of 23) in 23 minutes and 24 seconds of ice time.

“Auston, a goal and two assists and he’s all over the stat sheet tonight in so many regards,” Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said. “He’s affecting the game positively for us. But to me, just the way he worked. He competed, he was hard. Physical. Winning puck battles all over the ice.”

Maple Leafs captain John Tavares, who scored a power-play goal late in the second period, also was quick to give Matthews praise.

“He’s just world class, everything he does,” Tavares said of Matthews, who erupted for a career-high 69 goals during the regular season. “When you see the drive every single day, and the passion for the game, and wanting to be such a difference-maker night in and night out.

“At this time of year to have the night like he did was massive for our group. It puts us back on level terms going home, so big win for us and he certainly led the way.”

Matthews slipped behind Boston defenseman Charlie McAvoy to score on a breakaway with 7:54 remaining in the game to give Toronto a 3-2 lead on Monday. The Maple Leafs held on to snap an eight-game losing skid to the Bruins.

“It’s an important time of year for our team,” Matthews said. “These moments obviously are emotional. I’m really happy about the win. Going home split 1-1, we’ve got to continue to stay focused.”

David Pastrnak and Morgan Geekie each scored a goal on Monday for the Bruins.

“Next game you try to focus, don’t focus on home or away, obviously the home fans help a lot, but at the same time you have to maintain the focus and focus on your game,” Pastrnak said, per the Boston Globe. “So, we’ll regroup and it’ll get better.”

Linus Ullmark allowed three goals on 33 shots after Jeremy Swayman turned aside 35 of 36 shots in Boston’s 5-1 win in the series opener on Saturday.

“No second guesses. (Ullmark) was terrific. He made multiple, big-time saves,” Bruins coach Jim Montgomery said. “It’s a strength of our team. Both of them played really well, right? We only scored two goals.”

Toronto’s William Nylander has missed the first two games of this series after sustaining an undisclosed injury in the team’s regular-season finale last Wednesday. The availability for Game 3 is unknown for Nylander, who recorded career highs in assists (58) and points (98) to go along with his second straight 40-goal season.

“Obviously no update today, because not much happening for us here today except for getting ready to travel. But he’s a possibility for us tomorrow, I guess, is all we would say,” Keefe said Tuesday.

The Bruins will be without defenseman Andrew Peeke, who won’t make the trip and is considered week-to-week after taking a puck to his left hand in Game 2.

–Field Level Media

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