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Auston Matthews ties Leafs franchise goal record with hat trick against Lightning

The best player in the league came out to beat last year’s best team in the league

Toronto Maple Leafs v Tampa Bay Lightning
TAMPA, FLORIDA - APRIL 04: Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates a hat trick goal in the third periodcduring a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on April 04, 2022 in Tampa, Florida.
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Auston Matthews scored goals 52, 53, and 54 to tie the Toronto Maple Leafs franchise record for goals in a season with Rick Vaive. Matthews also extended his Rocket Richard lead by four goals over his opposition. Matthews has 13 more games to go in the regular season — a full bakers dozen — to hit 60 and beyond. Auston’s currently on pace to hit 64, but has been scoring at a goal-per-game level for the past 47 games. Yeah, seriously.

One almost forgets Matthews scored his fourth hat trick of the season, leading a blowout of the reigning Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning 6-2. Mitch Marner scored a goal to join Matthews with a four-point night as the best duo in the league created all four goals with each other. Pierre Engvall and Alex Kerfoot also scored in the win. Jack Campbell stopped 32-34 in his second win since coming back from injury.

First Period

1-0

PIERRE ENGVALL BEATS ANDREI VASILEVSKIY IN THE FIRST TWO MINUTES!!! He can’t stop scoring! A turnover at the defensive blueline let Engvall get away on a breakaway. His shot from the side of the slot went right in the exact same spot as his last goal the other night. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

1-1

Stamkos won a draw clean on Matthews and Kucherov sniped the set-piece past Campbell to tie the game in a lightning-quick shift. Gotta give respect for being on brand.

Campbell leg save on Perry from Kucherov. The travelling fans loved it.

Matthews and Kucherov went head-to-head on the skill. It was a really exciting first period watching those two.

Cernak threw Bunting into the boards from behind on a odd-man rush, launching Bunting into the post. Cernak got a penalty and the Leafs got the first power play with four minutes left in the first.

Tavares had an early chance. Then the second unit nearly got another from a point shot by Giordano, allowing Mikheyev to nearly bury the rebound. Abruzzese and Liljegren were also in the vicinity.

Marner then got a hooking penalty on Hedman a few seconds after the power play was done. Campbell stopped Perry from the bumper position in the penalty kill. The Leafs got out of the period but will start the next one down a man.

After One

The Leafs out-shot the Lightning 18-15 at 5v5, while holding an equivalent 54% of the expected goals.

It was a good period from the Leafs, who beat the Lightning ever so slightly at 5v5 along with a power play each. They fell apart a little bit near the end of the period, but they were bailed out by the intermission. They got panicky with the puck and weren’t being as clean as they could be.

Second Period

2-1

Matthews with #52! It was only a matter of time and Auston knew it as he celebrated another go-ahead goal for the team.

2-2

Four bodies between Rutta and Campbell as the defenseman beats the Leafs goalie through the five hole with a backhand.

3-2

FIFTY THREE FOR AUSTON MATTHEWS!!! Bunting got the puck deep, Marner made some plays to get width on the pass, and Matthews got his stick in front of Vasilevskiy’s to score a nearly-historic goal. Tied with Andreychuk, one behind Vaive.

4-2

Alex Kerfoot with the first insurance goal for the Leafs! Kerf looked dangerous offensively a couple times off the rush before finally getting it with this goal. He was able to go wide on the Lightning defense and get real chances on Vasilevskiy.

Engvall and Kämpf shot some rockets high on Vasilevskiy, Kämpf even hitting Vasilevskiy’s noggin to end the period.

After Two

Another positive period from the Leafs, who were even in shots and took another 54% of the expected goals. Bunting, Matthews, Mikheyev, and Kerfoot the biggest expected chance-getters. It was a very good period for the Leafs, who not only took a two-goal lead, but removed the Lightning from the front of the net. Campbell didn’t have to do nearly as much in the second half of the second period than he did in the first. The Lightning had enough zonetime, but lots of their chances were blocked or were compromised.

Third Period

The Leafs hit 30 shots less than five minutes into the period as they kept leading the game and the pace of play.

5-2

FIFTY FOUR FOR MATTHEWS AND THE HAT TRICK!!! Matthews was patient finding Marner as he drifted up in the zone. Marner was patient finding Matthews as he was shuffling down the zone. Matthews got the centering pass and patiently found a gap and buried his hat trick goal. I feel like that goal happened in slo-mo despite the two moving at a very high pace.

6-2

Marner selfishly...took a pass from Matthews and scored their fourth point of the night each.