Austin M(VP)atthews Hat Trick Night Ties Franchise Milestone
TAMPA BAY, Fla — The Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs both entered their Monday matchup with 93 points in the NHL standings.
Fighting for playoff seeding in the last month of the season, Amalie Arena hosted what was as close to a playoff game as you can get.
Battling for the No. 2 spot in the Atlantic Division, the Maple Leafs defeated the Lightning 6-2. Austin Matthews’s franchise record-tying night powered Toronto to a major victory.
A hat trick performance by Matthews helped him tie the single-season franchise record for goals scored by an individual.
Both teams found the back of the net in the opening period. Pierre Engvall (13) scored within the first two minutes to put Toronto up early.
Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov (13) evened the score with 13:36 to play in the first period.
Starting the second period locked at a 1-1 tie, Austin Matthews scored goals 52 and 53 on the season. The Maple Leafs scored three times, to take a 4-2 lead at the intermission.
Matthews (54) rode his own momentum and secured a hat trick in the third period, pushing the Toronto lead to 5-2.
Mitchell Marner (29) finished off the scoring in this game. Joining in on the Leafs’ scoring party, he expanded the Toronto advantage to 6-2.
Austin Matthews: Record Setter, MVP?
Austin Matthews has put together a season worth remembering. The 24-year-old for Toronto has become the center of attention in the NHL.
Entering Tuesday night, Matthews held the No.1 spot in goals scored with 51. Against Tampa Bay, Matthews delivered a hat trick to add three more goals to his tally.
With 54 goals on the season, Matthews tied Rick Vaive as the Maple Leafs all-time leading goal scorer in a single season.
With his incredible season that still has just under a month left in the regular season; Matthews is looking to signify his MVP caliber season and break the franchise record.
Costly Giveaways, Swapping Spots
The Tampa Bay Lightning have built success over the past two seasons by playing a fundamental brand of hockey.
Taking care of the puck and not giving up easy chances defensively has helped them win back-to-back Stanley Cup Finals.
On Tuesday, the Lightning did the opposite of what has made this team so strong in recent years. The Lightning had 12 giveaways and the sloppy handling of the puck presented easy chances for Toronto.
Tampa Bay has now lost two games in a row while the Maple Leafs have a winning streak of five.
With the win, the Maple Leafs take over the No. 2 spot in the Atlantic Division, while the Lightning fall to No. 3.
Toronto will remain in Florida to take on the Panthers on April 5.
Tampa Bay travels to Washington D.C. to play the Capitals on April 6.