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Amid MVP chants, Matthews authors 6th hat trick

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Published in Hockey
Saturday, 17 February 2024 22:18

TORONTO -- Auston Matthews had his second straight hat trick to push his NHL-leading goals total to 48 and added two assists for a career-high five points in the Toronto Maple Leafs' 9-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night.

Amid consistent "M-V-P!" chants raining down from the rafters, Matthews broke a tie for the Toronto record for hat tricks in a season with six, passing Reg Noble (1917-18), Babe Dye (1924-25) and Darryl Sittler (1980-81).

Matthews also had his team-record 73rd multigoal game, two more than Sittler. The American has 13 career hat tricks.

"It's always nice to have the support," Matthews said. "Like I've said, playing here is a big honor and to be able to have the support from the fans and the organization and all that comes with being a Maple Leaf, it's something that none of us take for granted."

William Nylander added a goal and two assists to reach 500 career points, Bobby McMann had two goals and an assist, Nick Robertson finished with a goal and an assist and Jake McCabe and Tyler Bertuzzi also scored.

Martin Jones made 19 saves to help Toronto improve to 29-16-8. Timothy Liljegren had three assists and Mitch Marner, Max Domi and Matthew Knies each had two.

Toronto became the 15th team in NHL history to have hat tricks in three straight games after McMann had the first of his career Tuesday night against St. Louis and Matthews followed that with three goals of his own Thursday night against Philadelphia. Matthews is the 10th player with six hat tricks in a season.

"You know teams are talking about him. I'm sure Anaheim had a plan," Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said of Matthews. "One of the greatest things about Auston is he continues to find ways to get to spots and get his stick available and to be able to score and help us take charge."

Ryan Strome had a goal and an assist for Anaheim, and Frank Vatrano also scored. Lukas Dostal allowed four goals on 18 shots in the first period before being replaced by John Gibson.

On pace to become the first NHLer to reach 70 goals in a season since 1992-93, Matthews opened the scoring at 3:41.

"It's not often over 82 games that you get a game like this where you sort of put it in cruise control for the second half and you're letting the clock wind down," Keefe said. "It was nice to be able to have one of these tonight."

Toronto went up 2-0 when McMann snapped his sixth on a power play at 6:06 before McCabe fired his fifth past Dostal, who stopped 55 of the 57 shots he faced Jan. 3 in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Maple Leafs in California.

Jones didn't have much to do at the other end until Vatrano beat him for his 24th on a man advantage 59 seconds later.

The Maple Leafs restored their three-goal lead on another power play when Nylander buried his 28th -- and 500th regular-season point -- with 2:23 left in the period.

Gibson replaced Dostal following the intermission, and Matthews scored his second of the night 50 seconds into the second on another man advantage. Bertuzzi snapped a 19-game goal drought with his seventh to push Toronto to 4-for-4 on the power play at 2:51.

Matthews, who scored in OT against Dostal last month, completed the hat trick at 5:39.

Toronto defenseman Morgan Rielly served the third contest of a five-game suspension for cross-checking Ottawa's Ridly Greig for firing a slap shot into an empty net. Captain John Tavares sat out with what Keefe described as a minor injury.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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