Matthews’ 3rd period goal helps Maple Leafs beat Capitals in home opener
Auston Matthews scored the game-winning goal in the third period as the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Washington Capitals 3-2 in their home opener Thursday.
John Tavares and Calle Jarnkrok had the other goals for Toronto. Morgan Rielly added two assists.
Ilya Samsonov made 24 saves against his former team as the Leafs (1-1-0) rebounded from a disappointing 4-3 road loss to the Montreal Canadiens in Wednesday’s curtain raiser.
Charlie Lindgren stopped 36 shots for the Capitals (0-2-0), which came from a 5-2 loss to the Boston Bruins in their home opener 24 hours earlier.
With both teams playing the second in a straight streak, there wasn’t much ice available in the third period until Mark Giordano found a seam on a close-range shot that Matthews got a piece of with his stick before handcuffing Lindgren and dribbling away. over the goal line, breaking a 2-2 tie at 6:55.
WATCH | Matthews scores the 1st goal of the season in the win over the Capitals:
The defending Hart Trophy winner and the first point of the season with 60 goals gave the team a breather after head coach Sheldon Keefe tore up Toronto’s performance in Montreal a night earlier.
Jarnkrok then fired wide on a shorthanded 2-on-1 before Lindgren also denied Mitch Marner another chance to keep the visitors within striking distance at Scotiabank Arena.
Samonov and his new teammates were then forced to hold on with the Leafs shorthanded twice in the final four minutes and Lindgren on the bench for an extra forward to seal the win.
Toronto opened the scoring 6:40 from first on a power play that finally clicked after a few great chances when Rielly found Tavares on the crease lip with a fluid lead.
Let’s take a moment to enjoy this pass! 🍎 pic.twitter.com/nK1PqIedQU
The Capitals responded at 9:57 a.m. when Dowd found the back of the net from close range before Johansson gave Washington the lead on a shot out of bounds — that of Samsonov, who played three seasons with the Capitals. Capitals before being let go in July. , will want to return at 1:52 p.m.
Starting in place of No. 1 goaltender Darcy Kuemper on the heels of Washington’s home opener, Lindgren stopped 20 of 21 shots he faced in the first 20 minutes, but couldn’t do anything on the Toronto equalizer at 4:03 of the second.
Alexander Kerfoot took a pass from Rielly to the offensive blue line and delayed before finding a serial Jarnkrok with terrific power for his first with the Leafs after signing in free agency.
Another day, another for newbies! 👀 pic.twitter.com/0SSmmV9dnF
Samsonov was in a shooting range against his former teammates later in the period on a power play, including a blast from Alex Ovechkin before also denying Dmitry Orlov with the glove.
Toronto came awfully close to moving forward just before intermission, but Matthews and Michael Bunting failed to connect on a bouncing puck in Lindgren’s crease.