Auston Matthews scores twice to seal a 3-2 win for Leafs over Canadiens


His 57th and 58th goals helped Toronto to wrap up a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.

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TORONTO — Auston Matthews scored twice in a 28-second span in the first period and the Toronto Maple Leafs went on to beat the Canadiens 3-2 Saturday at Scotiabank Arena.

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The win allowed the Maple Leafs to wrap up a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference, while the Canadiens remained 31st in the overall standings.

Jake Allen was doing a good job of keeping Toronto off the scoreboard, but Matthews converted the rebound of a shot by Mark Giardano to open the scoring at 13:32 of the first period. Allen had to do the splits on the play and it appeared he might have suffered a recurrence of the groin injury that kept him on the sidelines for more than two months earlier this year.

Sam Montembeault, who had made only one appearance in the previous 11 games, was pressed into service and received a rude welcome when Matthews scored on the next shot, beating Montembeault off the rush for his 58th goal of the season. Allen stopped 14 of the 15 shots he faced and Montembeault kept the game close with 23 saves.

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Chris Wideman left the Canadiens shorthanded after the goal. He cross-checked Michael Bunting, which led to the two exchanging blows. When the smoke cleared, Wideman received an extra minor as well as a 10-minute misconduct, which forced the Canadiens to juggle thejr defensive pairings.

Toronto outshot Montreal 18-7 in the first period. The Canadiens did have two scoring chances on breakaways. Josh Anderson was in the clear, but he rushed his shot and Erik Kallgren made the save. Cole Caufield caught the Leafs by surprise and had a breakaway when he came out of the box after serving Wideman’s penalty, but Kallgren closed the five-hole.

The Canadiens showed their resilience as they bounced back in the second period and cut the Toronto lead to one going into the final period.

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Montreal failed to score on an abbreviated power play early in the second period, the Canadiens kept the pressure on and Joel Edmundson pinched in and scored off a feed from Nick Suzuki to cut the Leafs’ lead in half.

But John Tavares restored Toronto’s two-goal lead less than three minutes later. He had his back to the net low in the faceoff circle when he spun inside on Alexander Romanov and beat Montembeault with a low shot to the far post.

Caufield brought the Canadiens back to within a goal when he scored late in the period to extend his goal-scoring streak to four games. He has 18 goals for the season — 17 of them in the 27 games since Martin St. Louis became head coach.

Neither team was a threat on the power play. The Canadiens went 0-for-4 with two shots on goal, while the Leafs were 0-for-5 with five shots. The Leafs only managed one shot when they had a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:44 in the third period.

Jeff Petry returned to action after missing six games. He picked up an assist on Edmundson’s goal and was solid on defence.

The Canadiens return to the Bell Center on Monday to play the Winnipeg Jets

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