Auston Matthews With Legendary Performance As Toronto Maple Leafs Tie Series

Demonstrating character and overcoming adversity were both on full display in the Leafs road victory over the Boston Bruins to tie their Stanley Cup playoff series at 1-1.
Toronto Maple Leafs v Boston Bruins - Game Two
Toronto Maple Leafs v Boston Bruins - Game Two / Rich Gagnon/GettyImages
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It didn't transpire during the final two games of the regular season, but Auston Matthews' 70th goal of the season (including playoffs) couldn't have happened at a better time for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

With less than eight minutes remaining in the third period of Game 2 against the Boston Bruins, Matthews corralled a long bomb pass from Max Domi at the opposition blue line, fought off Charlie McAvoy, and undressed goaltender Linus Ullmark to give the Toronto Maple Leafs the win.

The Leafs superstar and his linemates dragged the team to victory, along with linemates Max Domi and Tyler Bertuzzi who were both excellent as well tonight.

Despite themselves, at times, the Leafs pulled out an important victory to prevent being down 2-0 in the series. Thanks to their perseverance, the Maple Leafs have wrestled home-ice advantage away from the Bruins as the series shifts back to Toronto.

Matthews Leads the Way in Toronto Maple Leafs Crucial Comeback

For a team that is forever under the microscope, chastised for underperforming, and the butt-of-jokes due to past playoff failures, this game was full of character moments from the team in blue and white.

Coming off a one-sided opening game loss, plus playing without star winger William Nylander for the second straight game, there was plenty of pregame adversity surrounding the Leafs.

A solid first period from the Maple Leafs was countered by costly mistakes. First, a foolish post-whistle crosscheck from Jake McCabe let the Bruins take the lead with a power play goal.

Fourteen seconds later, Matthews rang a shot off the post that Domi gathered and deposited behind Ullmark. A good road period was almost complete until Timothy Liljegren and Joel Edmundson coughed up the puck, unforced, in the Leafs end that led to a defensive zone faceoff.

John Tavares lost the draw, and Matthew Knies, Simon Benoit, and Mitch Marner mixed up their coverages, leaving the Bruins top scorer, David Pastrnak, alone to score a potential back-breaking goal with only eight seconds left in the first period.

Rather than wilt, the Leafs regrouped during the second period when Bertuzzi appeared to tie the game with a power play goal. Upon review, it was disallowed by a high stick.

This came after Calle Jarnkrok was robbed by the glove of Ullmark a few minutes earlier.

The disallowed goal could have been deflating, but the Leafs stuck with it and Tavares scored on a power play with less than two minutes remaining in the second period. That tied the game at 2 heading to the third period.

Another almost self-inflicted wound came before the winner from Matthews when Bertuzzi and Ilya Lyubushkin were unnecessarily overexuberant during another post-whistle exchange that left the Leafs shorthanded.

The Leafs killed the penalty which preceded the heroics from Matthews.

Examples of Leafs Overcoming Adversity Littered Throughout Game 2

Matthews, Domi, and Bertuzzi all had subpar games in the opener of the series. The effort from Matthews was okay, but he didn't get on the scoresheet. Despite good intentions to get under the skin of Bruins' pest Brad Marchand, Domi took a needless penalty in Game 1 that led to a Bruins power-play goal.

Over his last few appearances, Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov was giving up too many goals, not making key saves, and giving the team's fans flashbacks to his early-season woes.

It wasn't always pretty, but he made more big saves during Game 2 than his counterpart, Ullmark.

The late goal from the Bruins in the first period could have resulted in an implosion. It appeared that the Leafs were on their way to a ninth consecutive loss to their playoff nemesis.

Instead, the Leafs demonstrated the grit and character that fans of the team have longed for. It came from their superstar center and his linemates.

Matthews was dominant in this game. He played over twenty-three minutes, had eight shots on net, won 70% of his faceoffs, scored the game-winner, and had two assists. Plus, a subtle shovel of a loose puck under Samsonov, while it lay in the crease, helped preserve the Leafs lead late in the third period.

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The Toronto Maple Leafs biggest star, with the help of his linemates, took over the game and changed the complexion of this series.