Auston Matthews is on a scoring rampage, while shooting holes in the Maple Leafs record book.
In compiling two goals and two assists in Toronto’s 7-3 trashing of the Senators on Thursday, Matthews became the first since the days of Babe Dye and the St. Patricks in the early 1920s to have points in 16 of his first 17 games of the season.
After driving his 173rd Leaf goal right through Marcus Hogberg and then replacement Matt Murray with a short-side sneak for 174, Matthews passed Dye and tied another Hall of Famer, Dick Duff, at 20th in franchise history. That’s all atop his ‘official’ Leafs point streak of 12 games, with 14 goals and six assists.
But leaping back over the Jan. 22 match against Edmonton Matthews missed with injury, he now has at least a point in his past 15. Only five other Leafs/St. Pats have done that, with Ed Olczyk and Darryl Sittler at the top with their record 18 games and Dave Andreychuk, John Anderson and Dye at 16.
“The puck’s going in right now, but it’s important we win games,” Matthews said as he and line mates Joe Thornton and Mitch Marner ganged up for 11 points Thursday. “It’s all three of us. Joe’s so good at shielding the puck back there, that’s his office, and Mitch and I have been together awhile.”
Thornton is equally impressed with Matthews’ defence.
“I didn’t really watch any East Coast games playing out West, but he’s very strong on his stick, he wants every loose puck.”
OLD JOE’S MOJO
There was some concern expressed when Thornton’s pre-injury points on his new team came to just a goal and assist after five games, both in the same contest against Ottawa. His ability to keep up with Matthews and Marner had been a question mark, too.
But after a few weeks away with a rib injury, he looked fine playing three in four nights and used the Sens again to pump his numbers, six points in this three-game series. That included a huge assist on Wednesday’s winner, then a goal and two helpers in the rubber match.
At 41 years (and 231 days) that made him the oldest Leaf with a three-point night, having a few months on Carl Brewer, who did it in his second coming as a Leaf in January of 1980.
“I felt fine tonight, it’s good for me to get a bunch of games in a row like this to get my timing back,” Thornton said. “I like rolling every other night, I think it will help me.”
IT’S YOUR PUCK-Y DAY
Some Leaf season ticket holders are finding a surprise at their door.
In trying to bring an “in arena” experience to those who can’t attend during COVID-19, a pre-game warm-up puck that clears the glass is located and gifted to a member whose seat is closest to where it landed. The discs are dated and delivered with a note from the team, indicating which player shot it into the stands.
A Matthews puck was recently sent to Suzanne Primeau, granddaughter of Hall Of Fame Leaf (Gentleman Joe) Primeau when it landed in Section 111, Row 23, Seat 4. The family has had seats since Joe played the year the Gardens opened in 1931.
THEY LIKE MIKE
With all the goalies in the Leaf organisation, including four on the big team’s list because of Jack Campbell’s injury, fate has given 27-year-old Scarborough native Andrew D’Agostini a shot with the Marlies.
With Michael Hutchinson and Joseph Woll now Taxi Squaders and Ian Scott (groin) out for awhile, D’Agostini played in all three opening games in Winnipeg. He won the first two with a .927 save percentage, before a 4-1 empty net goal loss Thursday. The undrafted D’Agostini played five years with the OHL Peterborough Petes, two with the University of Guelph, for five different ECHL teams and two in the Southern Professional League, including the Macon Mayhem.
“I saw him at breakfast today and there’s a big smile on his face, he’s loving every minute of this opportunity,” Marlies coach Greg Moore said on a Zoom call Thursday afternoon.
Murray wasn’t requested by the media after the game, but good on the veteran stopper to ask to come on Zoom and take what he thought was some ownership in the loss … Leaf Justin Holl on missing banged up Zach Hyman for Thursday’s game: “He’s a massive part of our team and the engine of any line he’s on” … TJ Brodie took his first minor of the year. He has less than 200 PIMs in 652 regular season games … Thursday was coach Sheldon Keefe’s 40th regular season win with the Leafs … The ECHL’s Brampton Beast are another COVID-19 casualty, announcing Thursday they’re folding after last year’s promising season was scrapped and with no prospect of re-starting in 2020-21 or perhaps ‘21-22. “Just too much for our modest hockey team to sustain,” president and GM Cary Kaplan said in a release.