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Matthews Keeps Rolling, Scores 50th In Win Over Coyotes; Leafs vs. Vegas

February 22, 2024, 10:34 PM ET [606 Comments]
Mike Augello
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The Toronto Maple Leafs started and finished with a flourish in a 6-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes at Mullett Arena on Wednesday, as Auston Matthews continued his red-hot streak, scoring his 50th and 51st goals of the season to propel the Leafs to their fifth straight victory.

William Nylander also scored a pair, with Bobby McMann and John Tavares adding singles and Ilya Samsonov made 23 saves to give the Leafs a five-point lead over Tampa Bay for third place in the Atlantic.

“We got going well early in the game and took control. It is a huge goal from McMann to get us going and then the power play took advantage of their opportunities.” Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said after the game. “It gets a little hairy there in the second period where they get two, but I did like how we managed it. I don’t like that they got the third goal at the end of the second period, but by and large, we managed it well from the point in time that they scored the second goal. I thought we did a pretty good job of it.”

The Leafs were galvanized by the five-game suspension given to defenseman Morgan Rielly and it served as motivation over the last week.

“The group has really rallied here since Morgan left the lineup. It is not so much Morgan leaving the lineup as that incident and how it all played out. Morgan, in essence, defended the pride of the group and the pride of the logo. The team means so much to Morgan Rielly. In that moment, he shows you how much he cares about our team and what we are doing.” Keefe said. “I thought it was a real wake-up call to our team to get real serious about winning, take care of games, and rally around the moment.”

Toronto will look to extend their streak to six against the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Thursday. The Golden Knights were already short-handed with center Jack Eichel on injured reserve and the news did not get any better for them this week, as winger Mark Stone was placed on IR with reportedly a lacerated kidney.

The Leafs will start Martin Jones in the second of back-to-back games, and Adin Hill (14-5-2, 2.15 GAA, .929 save %) will go for Vegas.


In a column posing hypothetical trades, the Athletic’s Eric Duhatschek has the Leafs using their 2024 first rounder in a three-way deal to acquire both Calgary’s Chris Tanev and Arizona’s Matt Dumba. This deal happening is as likely as Sarah McLachlan pointing to me in the seventh row of her next Toronto concert and saying “hey….get that guy’s phone number for me”….but the interest in Tanev and Dumba from Duhatschek is right on target.

The Leafs are definitely interested in Tanev, but it makes little sense for GM Brad Treliving to deal a premium draft pick for a player he could sign in the summer for nothing. The interest in the Calgary blueliner is so brisk that it is likely that GM Craig Conroy will get first-round pick offers from one or more clubs.

Dumba (who the Leafs tried to sign in the summer, but pivoted to John Klingberg when the former Wild blueliner’s price was too high) will likely cost a significantly lower price. Duhatschek suggested the Leafs swapping their 2024 first and getting Dumba and one of the Coyotes three second-round picks, moving up 20 odd slots. A deal of this type makes sense.


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