Matthews scores his 36th, Maple Leafs beat Canucks 4-1
TORONTO (AP) Auston Matthews scored his NHL-leading 36th goal of the season as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Vancouver Canucks 4-1 on Thursday night.
The 23-year-old Matthews hit the 60-point mark for a fifth straight season since getting picked first overall at the 2016 draft.
Mitch Marner had a goal and an assist, and William Nylander and Pierre Engvall added goals for Toronto (32-13-5). David Rittich, who got the start in place of Jack Campbell, made 15 saves and picked up his first victory since being acquired from the Calgary Flames ahead of the trade deadline.
"Pretty fortunate to play with some pretty good players," said Matthews, who's closing in on his first Maurice (Rocket) Richard Trophy as the league's top goal scorer. "Myself and Mitchy, our chemistry's grown quite a bit. He's an unbelievable player. I don't think he gets enough credit for what he's able to do out there. He's a special talent."
Jason Spezza added an assist and passed Maurice (Rocket) Richard for the 99th spot on the league's all-time scoring list with 967 points. The Canucks' 16 shots were the fewest allowed by the Maple Leafs this season, besting the 18 surrendered to Calgary on March 19.
J.T. Miller scored for Vancouver (19-22-3), which has lost four of five and remains 10 points back of the Montreal Canadiens in the race for fourth place and the final playoff berth in the North Division with four games in hand. Braden Holtby made 20 saves.
"We definitely got better as the game went on," Canucks head coach Travis Green said. "There's a couple plays we'd like to have back."
The Leafs, who have won four straight following a 0-3-2 run, improved to 4-3-1 against the Canucks this season.
Vancouver hasn't won in Toronto since December 2011.
Hutton debuted for the Leafs following his acquisition from the Anaheim Ducks prior to the deadline.
The Leafs carried a decided edge in the opening 20 minutes, but just two of their first 16 shots found the mark, including a T.J. Brodie shot that clanged off the crossbar.
Toronto finally found the range with 4:31 left in the period when Vancouver defenseman Quinn Hughes couldn't get the puck out of his zone. John Tavares and Alex Galchenyuk quickly got the puck to Nylander, who scored his 16th goal of the season, and second in as many games.
Matthews took a pass from Marner on a 2-on-1 and one-timed a shot past Holtby just 51 seconds into the second.
Vancouver rookie Kole Lind collected his team's third shot of the game shortly thereafter, but Engvall finished off a nice passing play with Spezza and Rasmus Sandin at 2:56 with his fourth to make it 3-0.
Miller got one back with 4:24 left in the period when the puck ricocheted to the winger on a power play and he scored his 11th on Rittich.
"I had a chance to spend a little more time with my teammates and with the staff," said Rittich, who got the game puck from Marner at the buzzer. "It was for sure helpful ... I feel way better."
The Leafs rounded out the scoring with 54.9 seconds left in regulation when Alexander Kerfoot stole the puck from Holtby and fed Marner for his 18th.
The teams conclude their nine-game season series at Toronto on Saturday.
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Updated April 30, 2021