Matthews Scores as Toronto Maple Leafs Win in his Hometown

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 28: Patrick Marleau
GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 28: Patrick Marleau /

The Toronto Maple Leafs scored a hard fought victory in Arizona last night. 

The Toronto Maple Leafs traveled to Arizona to take on the Coyotes. Auston Matthews, a native to Arizona, would make his second appearance in his hometown.

With a sea of blue and white in the stands, the game felt like a home game. Before the game began, however,  in a show of total class by the Coyotes organization, they paused in silence in memory of Leafs’ legend, Johnny Bower. Bower passed away on Dec. 26 at the age of 93 following a short battle with pneumonia.

First period

The Toronto Maple Leafs would jump on the board within the first 10 minutes.  Zach Hyman would find himself away on a short-handed breakaway to open the scoring with his seventh of the season. Then, just over two minutes later, Auston Matthews would follow with his fifteenth of the season over the glove of Scott Wedgewood. The blue and white were not done there as just 27 seconds later, Mitchell Marner scored his fifth of the season, the floodgates had seemingly been opened. However, this would not be the case. The Coyotes would answer with goals from Josh Archibald and Brendan Perlini.

During the period, Leafs’ Nazem Kadri would catch an elbow to the neck by Coyotes’ Lawson Crouse. However, there was no call on the play.

Second period

To start the second, it was pointed out that Kadri had not returned to the bench. Of course, this raised speculation as to what could have gone wrong. He would not return to the game at all.

The second period wound up being a lot of the same as we saw in the first. Patrick Marleau would be the first to strike in the frame on the power-play, it was his thirteenth of the season. On the play Marner would make a very heads up pass to put it on Marleau’s stick, another great sign for Marner. Following that, William Nylander would score his eighth goal of the season, unassisted. Then, just 10 seconds later, Marleau would score his second of the game, with Marner setting him up once again. However, the Coyotes would not go quietly as they would score one to close the frame off the stick of Jordan Martinook.

The Leafs would would then carry a 6-3 lead into the third and potentially final frame.

Third period

Fans on Twitter wanted to see Marleau finish up the hat trick, would it happen? Unfortunately, it would not. Also, the third period would prove to be the slowest of the game. Coyotes’ Christian Fischer would find twine on the power-play to make it 6-4. However, with the Coyotes’ net wide open, Leafs’ Connor Brown would take advantage of the open opportunity to put an end to the game, 7-4.


Seven goals is impressive for any team and the Leafs are a team that have scored half a dozen or more quite a few times this season. However, they slacked in other areas of importance. In this contest, they were lucky to not give up anymore power-play markers than they did. The Leafs took 16 penalty minutes, even going down five on three late in the first period.

Ultimately, they would kill it off but the penalties to generate the opportunity were pointless penalties. Penalty trouble is something that haunts the Leafs, something needs to change on that front if this team is to make a good push.

Also, the play of Frederik Andersen is being called upon far too often. The Leafs lack defensive awareness, which is no secret, Andersen can only do so much. Though, when Andersen is at the top of his game, as he has been for the most part this season, he can handle some shots.  The Coyotes and Leafs tied in shots tonight at 34.  The Toronto Maple Leafs, however, allowed one of the worst teams in the NHL to control almost 59% of the play.  Yes, score-effects play a part in that, but if the Coyotes got even OK goaltending, they might have won this game.

Next for the blue and white…

The Toronto Maple Leafs  will travel to Colorado to take on the Avalanche on Dec. 29. Puck drop will be at 9pm EST.

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