Auston Matthews broke Wendel Clark's 31-year-old franchise rookie record with his 35th goal of the season, and the Toronto Maple Leafs earned a 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night.
He was perhaps most impressive when Florida stopping Jonathan Huberdeau and Thomas Vanek midway through the third period when the Leafs ran into penalty trouble, although he couldn't stop Jaromir Jagr with 56 seconds to go, the Florida net empty and the Panthers on a power play.
Clark said he knew after the second period of Matthews' NHL debut against Ottawa - when he scored four goals, including three after less than 22 minutes - that Matthews would likely shatter his record from the 1985-86 season. Matthews has the lead for now at 35, as Laine (34) did not score in the Jets' 4-3 shootout win over the New Jersey Devils.
Clark couldn't have been happier that Matthews shoved him aside.
Clark was asked when he thought his record might be in jeopardy this season.
"(The goaltending situation) didn't impact us in the first. "If we're going to be any good we need these young guys breaking all (these records) and doing well".
"He's got a great class of kids to be playing with". "A lot of guys played well".
Two rookies fittingly drew the assists on Matthews' goal at 11:54 of the first period: Zach Hyman and William Nylander. Upon reviewing the tape, there was a play mid-way through the first period where Andersen was trying to corral a loose puck and Evander Kane fell onto the back of his neck, which could have raised some red flags. However they have a very tough schedule to end the season and the possibility of missing the playoffs is real.
But nevertheless, what stands in front of them is the biggest test they've faced all season. "He never takes a game off". After a string of being extremely disciplined - taking six penalties over their previous four games - it was a bad night for the Maple Leafs to sit in the box. "He's got a great set of hands for a big guy". And while his numbers inspire confidence that he can fill the void reasonably well, a lot of other things say otherwise. He can be coming across the blueline, he's unsafe by himself. Where do you see him fitting in long-term?
Evan Rodrigues scored for the Sabres, and Anders Nilsson stopped 26 shots. (Tuesday was Matthews's 75th game).
The Leafs will have only seven games left in 12 days after facing the Panthers, who beat Toronto 7-2 earlier this month.
But then they nearly handed the game back to the Panthers, a non-playoff team that played the previous night and then lost starting goaltender James Reimer to a head injury midway through the second period.
If McElhinney starts the Leafs' remaining eight games, based on those numbers we would expect he would allow roughly two more goals.
Not only has Andersen been among the NHL's top-15 goaltenders this season (.918 save percentage in a career-high 61 games), but he's been especially hot of late, posting a.936 save percentage in March. The Leafs weren't counting on McElhinney to do that.
Before the game started, the atmosphere in the Key was electric, mostly thanks to the Leafs fans making plenty of noise, but it would be the Sabres who would strike first, thanks to Ryan O'Reilly, who took a sweet pass from Ennis and slammed it home to give the Sabres a 1-0 lead.
The goal was Matthews' 62nd point in 75 games and it put him four off the Leafs rookie points record of 66, set by Peter Ihnacak in 1982-83. Hyman's shorthanded goal was his fourth of the season, also a franchise record.
Reimer, who has a concussion history, left the game in the second period after he suffered an upper-body injury in a collision at the net.
Reimer was attempting to cover the puck at the side of the net when Boyle skated in and made contact with his head.
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Darren Collison led the Kings with 19 points and Buddy Hield hit three 3-pointers in the closing minutes to finish with 15 points. Nikola Mirotic tied a season high with 28 points and Chicago pulled away in the second half of a 109-94 win at Milwaukee.
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