TORONTO — Morgan Rielly and Auston Matthews scored a goal and an assist, while Jack Campbell made 45 saves to push the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 4-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday.
However, Matthews ran face-first into the crossbar of the Maple Leafs net as he pursued Penguins captain Sidney Crosby with 13:19 remaining in the third period.
Doubled over and holding his face, Matthews left the game for repairs but returned with five minutes left. Moments before his mishap, he set up Michael Bunting for Toronto’s fourth goal, less than three minutes after Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin scored on a rebound to break up Campbell’s shutout bid.
Campbell put forth his best outing in weeks, keeping a red-hot Crosby and the Penguins (31-12-8) at bay. Even with the defeat, Pittsburgh has gone an impressive 14-4-3 since the calendar flipped to 2022.
On Tuesday, Crosby scored his 500th career goal in a win at home against the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Maple Leafs (32-12-3) were outshot by the visitors 46-29, but have won back-to-back games after beginning a three-game Western swing last week with losses to the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks.
Matthews only needed 21 seconds to extend his point streak to nine games before 8,139 fans as relaxed provincial COVID-19 regulations allowed Scotiabank Arena to be at half capacity.
Matthews took a stretch pass from defenceman T.J. Brodie to score on a short-sided shot on Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry.
The breakaway goal was Matthews’ 33rd, tying him for the goal-scoring lead with Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers and New York Rangers veteran Chris Kreider. Draisaitl and Kreider also were in action on Thursday.
Matthews has collected eight goals and 17 points during his nine-game offensive spree.
The Penguins came on after their early wake-up call courtesy of Matthews. Campbell was sharp to keep his team in front.
He stopped Jeff Carter on a breakaway and made a nifty catching glove save on Pittsburgh centre Evan Rodriguez during a Penguins power play.
Campbell continued to keep the Penguins goal-less in the second period with a right-pad stop on Ryan Rust from in close.
On the preceding shift, Rielly increased the Maple Leafs to 2-0 with a crafty breakaway, power-play goal. Instead of dropping back a pass to either Mitch Marner or Matthews in the neutral zone, Rielly kept the puck.
He sped past Penguins forward Brian Boyle and then split the defence-duo of Brian Dumoulin and John Marino for a dandy goal that Campbell registered an assist on.
Pittsburgh entered the game with the second-best penalty-killing unit in the league, while the Maple Leafs have the most efficient power play.
The Maple Leafs showed off their stingy penalty kill with a shorthanded goal from David Kampf late in the second period.
The puck caromed to Rielly in the neutral zone after Campbell made a handful of stops with the Penguins on the power play. Rielly sped into the offensive zone to set up Kampf on a two-on-one rush.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 17, 2022.
Tim Wharnsby, The Canadian Press