Auston Matthews had a goal and an assist, powering the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 3-2 win over the Rangers Saturday night at The Garden. It was Matthews’ first game back after missing six games with a concussion. It was the 2nd straight loss for the Blueshirts.
William Nylander gave the Maple Leafs a 1-0 lead with 2:48 to go in the 1st period, taking a pass from Matthews and beating Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers could not take advantage of 1:40 of a 5-on-3 advantage midway through the period.
Ron Hainsey made it 2-0 Toronto in the first minute of the 2nd period with a power play goal at 0:50. But Jimmy Vesey quickly cut it to 2-1 at 2:37 of the period with a heads-up play, picking up a loose puck behind the Toronto net and backhanding a wraparound past Frederik Andersen for his 8th goal of the season.
Matthews made it 3-1 at the 11:54 mark after a defensive lapse by the Blueshirts. Both Ryan McDonagh and Nick Holden got stuck in the corner, trying to pry the puck loose from Nylander. Zach Hyman picked up the puck, and got it to a wide-open Matthews, who scored his 14th goal of the season.
The Rangers came out more aggressively in the 3rd period, as they tried to come back from the 3-1 deficit. J.T. Miller made it a one-goal game again with 8:35 to go, taking a pass from Pavel Buchnevich, who was behind the net, and slipping the puck past Andersen to make it 3-2.
Then Michael Grabner looked as if he had tied the game 44 seconds later, with a laser beam past Andersen with 7:51 remaining, but the Leafs challenged the play. Replays showed that Kevin Hayes was offsides, so the goal was taken off the board.
A too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty with 1:24 effectively squashed any chance the Rangers had of rallying in the closing seconds.
The Rangers [now 19-13-4, 42 pts] are off until a Wednesday night game at The Garden against the Washington Capitals.