Auston Matthews put on a show for the streaking Toronto Maple Leafs in his first outdoor game
Matthews scored in regulation and overtime, leading the Maple Leafs to a 5-4 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday in the Centennial Classic.
In a game delayed 30 minutes at the start because of sun on the ice at BMO Field, Matthews won it with the 20th of his rookie season after the Maple Leafs blew a three-goal lead in the third period. Toronto has won five straight to improve to 17-12-7.
After eluding Red Wings defender Danny DeKeyser, the 19-year-old Matthews flipped a quick backhander into the upper reaches of the cage at 3:40 of overtime.
”Definitely one of the best moments in hockey I’ve ever experienced for myself,” Matthews said. ”It’s pretty special.”
Toronto won after Detroit’s Anthony Mantha tied it with 1.1 seconds left.
”To get a big goal like that, you don’t want to call it a storybook (ending), but you may as well, right?” Toronto defenseman Morgan Rielly said about Matthews’ first OT goal.
Leo Komarov, Mitch Marner, and Connor Brown also scored for Toronto, and Frederik Andersen made 33 saves. Matthews has scored in four straight games and has 13 goals in the last 17 games.
”I don’t think there’s anybody in this room that’s surprised by it,” Rielly said. ”He’s got a skillset that allows him to do things that a lot of other people can’t do. But on top of that, he’s got a good brain, he works hard and he’s been playing with good teammates. We have lots of faith that it’s going to continue to roll the way it is.”
Mantha scored twice for Detroit, Jonathan Ericsson and Dylan Larkin added goals and rookie Jared Coreau stopped 23 shots. The Red Wings dropped to 16-16-5.
Mantha extended his points streak to six games.
”It’s the confidence,” Manta said. ”The chemistry is also coming along, the coaches having confidence in me also, gives me more ice time, so I just need to keep playing the way I am.”
It wasn’t an entirely full house at BMO with scattered empty seats among the 40,818 in attendance. The rink itself was placed on a tableau of the No. 100, signifying both the centennial season for both the Leafs and NHL.
Before the game, the NHL revealed the first 33 players on its 100 greatest players list, a group that included former Red Wings great Gordie Howe and former Leafs goalie Johnny Bower.
After Mantha opened the scoring in the second period, the team combined for seven goals in the third.
Komarov tied it 1:23 into the final frame. Fed by Jake Gardiner, who fetched a loose puck in the corner of the Detroit zone, Komarov stuffed his sixth goal of the season past Coreau.
Marner put the Leafs ahead at 8:23, storming past Mantha and into the slot before beating Coreau. Fed from behind the net by fellow rookie Zach Hyman, Brown scored 1:11 later. Matthews scored at 12:05.
Ericsson and Larkin scored less than two minutes apart to cut the deficit to one. Mantha tucked a shot into the net with 1.1 seconds left in regulation. Andersen was down and out on the play after slight contact with Thomas Vanek in the crease. The play was reviewed, but ultimately confirmed.
”It’s 4-1, just get it out of your zone,” Toronto coach Mike Babcock said. ”It was so easy. And like you’ve seen us do it, it’s just like deja vu. But we got a lesson here tonight and still won the game for our fans. And let’s be honest, the NHL likes it that it was 5-4 way better than it would’ve been 1-0 so it’s exciting.”
Red Wings: At Anaheim on Wednesday night.
Maple Leafs: At Washington on Tuesday night.