Maple Leafs score four third period goals in dramatic come from behind win against Devils
By Neil Becker
For a second straight game, the never say die Toronto Maple Leafs showed a flair for some third-period dramatics.
Two days after scoring five third-period goals to cap a dramatic Saturday night comeback against the Detroit Red Wings, the Leafs were at it again. However, this time the Leafs needed only four third-period goals to complete what was a Monday night 6-4 win at Scotiabank Arena against the New Jersey Devils.
Leading the offensive charge was forward Auston Matthews who scored his fifth career hattrick in what was a four-point performance which now has him at 400 for his career.
The Leafs will obviously take the two points and move on, but truth be told coach Sheldon Keefe couldn’t have been overly thrilled by everything he saw.
New Jersey, who trails the Leafs by 24 points in the standings got off to a fast start as they were not only outshooting Toronto by a 27-22 margin after two periods but also leading by a 4-2 score. The scenario was eerily similar to Saturday in Detroit when the Wings were outshooting the Leafs by a 28-24 count and carried that same 4-2 lead into the third only to give it up.
Besides being forced on Monday to once again come from behind in the third, another disturbing event was seeing Leafs starting goaltender Jack Campbell getting pulled after surrendering three first-period goal on only nine shots.
The Devils couldn’t have asked for a better start as they scored back-to-back goals from Pavel Zacha with his 11th followed by Jesper Boqvist scoring his second which a little over six minutes into regulation gave them a 2-0 lead.
Matthews, who came into action six goals behind league leader Leon Draisaitl, quickly narrowed that gap with two first-period goals. His first, which was his 26th came at the 6:33 mark when he ripped one home from in close to make it a one-goal game.
Coming back to haunt his old team was Devils forward and former Leaf Andreas Johnsson who less than three minutes following the Matthew’s goal, capitalized with his 11thwhich chased Campbell from the nets and once again give Jersey that two-goal cushion with a 3-1 advantage. Toronto’s explosive offense couldn’t be shut down as Matthews with under five minutes celebrated his second of the period to make it a one goal game heading to the second.
Toronto had 13 second-period shots and generated opportunities but came up empty as New Jersey got the only goal on a Nathan Bastian shot to give them momentum heading to the third.
Finding themselves in a familiar position of trailing after two, the Leafs turned up the heat as they not only outshot the Devils by an 11-2 third period count but were rewarded with what was their fourth straight win.
Starting the comeback was veteran forward Jason Spezza who just north of five minutes into the third registered his eighth goal of the season and 984th career point.
Approximately nine minutes later the floodgates opened up starting with Mitch Marner extending his game goal-scoring streak to six. Shortly after Toronto capitalized on a short-handed goal from Ilya Mikheyev with his 11th followed fittingly enough by Matthews who with only 22 seconds left rounded out the scoring with his 28th into an open net.
These two teams will meet again on Tuesday night only this time at the Prudential Center in New Jersey with puck drop scheduled for a 7 p.m. start.
0:47 Pavel Zacha (11)
Jack Hughes (15), Jesper Bratt (26)
6:20 Jesper Boqvist (2)
Colton White (3), Janne Kuokkanen (6)
6:33 Auston Matthews (26) 2 – 1
Mitch Marner (20), Timothy Liljegren (5)
9:10 Andreas Johnsson (11) 3 – 1
Dawson Mercer (14)
15:04 Auston Matthews (27) 3 – 2
Morgan Rielly (32), Mitch Marner (21)
7:33 Nathan Bastian (9)
Ryan Graves (14), Jesper Boqvist (5)
4:16 Jason Spezza (8)
Ilya Mikheyev (2), Alex Kerfoot (24)
13:28 Mitch Marner (12) 4 – 4
Auston Matthews (21)
16:56 SHG- Ilya Mikheyev (7) 5 – 4
Alex Kerfoot (25)
19:38 Auston Matthews (28) 6 – 4
Morgan Rielly (33)