Matthews Hat-trick Powers Maple Leaf Comeback over Seattle

(TORONTO, O.N) Wednesday evening marked the first time that NHL’s newest franchise, the Seattle Kraken, would play in Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs.

Seattle’s season has been far from memorable, as they sit near the bottom of the NHL standings, and with teams like the Arizona Coyotes and Montreal Canadiens both picking up a few more wins in the past couple of weeks, it might be only a matter of time for the Kraken to end up rooted to the bottom of the standings.

While Toronto came into the game winning 5-4 over Columbus on Monday, winning four of their last six games, the Kraken had lost their previous two games and have only won once in their last 10 games.

Toronto got the scoring open early on their league best power play, when current NHL goal leader Auston Matthews extended his lead on top of the charts with his 41st goal of the season. This marker was also his 13th PPG of the year, the team lead.

Tweet Credit: @NHL

Seattle defenceman Carson Soucy got the Kraken back on level terms a little over two minutes later when he chased his own blocked shot which landed right back on his stick before firing over the glove of Maple Leaf net minder Jack Campbell for his seventh goal of the season.

With Soucy’s goal on the evening he matches his career high for goals in a season as he continues to be a bright spot on the Kraken blueline after he was picked up in the expansion draft from Minnesota.

Midway through the first period Leaf captain John Tavares found himself on a different line combination as he entered between Ilya Mikheyev and Pierre Engvall, the typical third line Sheldon Keefe rolls out, but they got to work when defenceman T.J Brodie sent a tape to tape pass from behind the Leaf goal line all the way up to the Kraken blue to find a waiting Engvall.

Engvall had the presence of mind to spot the captain behind the Kraken defender leaving him all alone on a breakaway which he converted on giving him his 19th goal of the season, and goals in two of his last three games.

Tweet Credit: @NHL

The Kraken found themselves in penalty trouble again in the second period as they would take three straight penalties to open the frame, and the Leafs would capitalize once again, this time through William Nylander.

While all the focus and press has been on the explosiveness of the Leafs top line of Matthews-Marner-Bunting their second line has remained rather neutralized for the past few weeks and is slowly finding its feet once again.

Nylander wired a shot through a crowd of skates and sticks for his 22nd goal of the campaign as he his still having a productive, yet low-key season.

With the Leafs collecting another 3-1 lead midway through the second period, it was to be expected that would be evaporated again by the end of the frame.

The Kraken got back on the board with a lovely tic-tac-toe play between Jordan Eberle, Marcus Johansson and finished off with Alexander Wennberg’s seventh goal of the year to cut the deficit to one.

Tweet Credit:@SeattleKraken

But the Kraken weren’t finished in the second as they benefitted from their penalty woes after a brutal giveaway from Nylander in the Kraken zone sent Yanni Gourde and Colin Blackwell away on a two-on-one which Blackwell needed to slot home for his eighth goal of the season and second shorty of the season.

Toronto’s defensive troubles went from bad to worse in the third period as Jaden Schwartz redirected a point shot from defenceman Jermey Lauzon for his seventh of the season, giving Seattle their first lead of the game.

One perk in watching the Leafs since 2017 has been the genuine confidence a fan might have that no matter the score in the game the Leafs have a switch that they can seemingly turn on when they want to, and the Kraken had front row seats to the Mitch Marner-Auston Matthews Show once again.

Just a little after Schwartz gave Seattle the lead, the “MicMattMar” line was at it once again when Matthews finished off a dazzling passing play from his linemates, and ensuring that Kraken goaltender Phillip Grubauer was left with no hope in the world Auston Matthews tucked home his second goal of the night and 42nd on the season.

Toronto wasn’t finished as Seattle found themselves shorthanded for the sixth time on the night, it took Mitch Marner just five seconds in which he sent Joonas Donskoi to play a different sport, and send the Scotiabank Arena into a frenzy when he fired home his 23rd goal of the season restoring the Leaf lead.

Tweet Credit: @TicTacTOmar

Matthews wasn’t finished as he found the back of an empty Seattle net in the dying embers of the game to give him his third hat trick of the season, and his sixth of his career.

With his third goal of the game, and 43rd of the season, that extended Matthews lead on top of the goal scoring charts with both Chris Kreider and Leon Drasaitl tied for second, level with 38 goals.

Matthews just needs four more goals to match his career high of 47, with the Hart trophy race now really heating up, you would have to imagine Matthews has cemented himself as one of the favourites to win the trophy.

Seattle will continue to travel to finish up the rest of the games in Eastern Canada with games against Ottawa on Thursday and then Montreal on Saturday, while the Leafs will entertain the Arizona Coyotes in Toronto on Thursday evening, just before they clash against Buffalo in the Heritage Classic in Hamilton.


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