Nylander, Matthews lead the way as Maple Leafs match franchise record for points - InfoNews

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Nylander, Matthews lead the way as Maple Leafs match franchise record for points

Toronto Maple Leafs centre William Nylander (29) scores his second goal of the period past Buffalo Sabres goaltender Chad Johnson (31) during second period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Monday, April 2, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
April 02, 2018 - 8:10 PM

TORONTO - Auston Matthews pushed his point streak to seven games on Monday. Linemate William Nylander was the main reason why.

The duo each had two goals and an assist as the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Buffalo Sabres 5-2 to match a franchise record for points in a season.

Matthews has five goals and 10 points on his recent run to give him 60 points in 60 games. Meanwhile, Nylander is up to 59 points. They trail only Mitch Marner (69) in team scoring with two regular-season games remaining.

"I feel like we've had (chemistry) since we started playing with each other last year and especially with (Zach) Hyman as well," said Matthews.

"The more you play with somebody, obviously, you build more chemistry and get to know them and have a feel for where they're going to be in certain areas. We definitely showed that tonight.

Andreas Johnsson also scored for the Maple Leafs (48-25-7), who have won 15 of their last 17 games at Air Canada Centre.

"Home's been pretty good to us and we feel we have an advantage when we step into the arena here," said Matthews.

Backup Curtis McElhinney got his second straight start and stopped 32 shots for the win. He's 11-5-1 on the season when starting over Frederik Andersen.

"I've obviously enjoyed the winning, run support was there tonight again. Makes my job a lot easier," said McElhinney.

Sam Reinhart scored his career-high 24th goal of the season for the last-place Sabres (25-42-12). Jason Pominville had the other while Chad Johnson made 31 saves.

Buffalo came into the game following a 7-4 win Saturday over the Nashville Predators.

"You think you're heading in the right direction and then you take a step back," said Pominville.

Toronto equalled Pat Quinn's 2003-04 squad for most points in a season with 103, however Quinn's team did it before the NHL instituted the shootout to break ties. The Leafs have seven shootout victories in 2017-18.

Johnsson opened the scoring at 5:44 of the first when he deflected a pass from Tomas Plekanec.

Buffalo had its opportunities to put a goal on the board before the period was through with Toronto defenceman Roman Polak taking back-to-back high sticking penalties — including a double minor — but the Sabres couldn't get much going.

Polak had 5:37 of ice time in the first, a secondary assist on Johnsson's goal and six minutes in high-sticking penalties. He finished the game with 19:13.

The Sabres began the second period with over three minutes remaining in Polak's double minor. Buffalo couldn't get anything going for over two minutes. But after finally setting up in Toronto's zone, Reinhart deflected a Ristolainen point shot past McElhinney to tie the game at 2:27.

Matthews responded for the Leafs on the power play a little over two minutes later, wristing a shot top shelf from just inside the face-off circle.

Nylander made it a three-goal lead in the span of 2:37.

First he scored on a breakaway at 7:39 after Matthews caught Buffalo on a bad line change and made a stretch pass ahead to the streaking Swede. Then, Nylander added his second, going backand to forehand before snapping it under the bar.

"I thought the first period was pretty good, then we tied it up with the power-play goal," said Sabres coach Phil Housley.

"Then we didn't manage the puck very well, get caught on a line change and game gets out of reach. (The Leafs) have a terrific rush game and can finish."

The Sabres cut into Toronto's lead on the power play 2:48 into the third period when Pominville put home a rebound.

Matthews made it 5-2 with his second power-play goal of the game, finishing off a Nylander pass.

McElhinney made rare back-to-back starts, with head coach Mike Babcock choosing to give Andersen some extra rest. Andersen has faced the most shots of any goaltender this season and is third in minutes played.

Toronto finishes the season with a game Thursday in New Jersey and Saturday at home against Montreal.

"We've given Freddie more than a long break so then we'll give him two games going in (to the post-season)," said Babcock pre-game.

Notes: Leafs forward Leo Komarov was out of the lineup for personal reasons. He was replaced by Matt Martin. ... Defenceman Travis Dermott sat out with a lower-body injury. He's day-to-day.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2018
The Canadian Press

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