TORONTO () – Auston Matthews scored his 36th leading NHL goal of the season when the Toronto Mle Leafs defeated the Vancouver Canucks 4-1 on Thursday night.
The 23-year-old Matthews reached the 60-point mark for the fifth season in a row, as he was selected first overall at the 2016 draft.
Mitch Marner scored and assisted, and William Nylander and Pierre Engvall added Toronto goals (32-13-5). David Rittich, who started in place of Jack Campbell, made 15 interventions and picked up his first victory since he was acquired from the Calgary Flames before the trade date.
Jason Spezza added his assist and handed Maurice (Rocket) Richard 99th in the All-Time League list with 967 points. The 16 shots the Canucks were the least allowed by the Mle Leafs this season, with 18 surrendering to Calgary on March 19.
JT Miller scored for Vancouver (19-22-3), who lost four of five and remains in the Montreal Canadiens 10 points back in a battle for fourth place and a final place in the playoffs in the Northern Division with four games in hand. Braden Holtby performed 20 procedures.
The Leafs, who won four straight after running 0-3-2, improved to 4-3-1 against the Canucks this season.
Vancouver hasn’t won in Toronto since December 2011.
Hutton debuted at the Leafs after an acquisition from the Anaheim Ducks ahead of time.
The Leafs had a decisive lead in the opening 20 minutes, but only two of their first 16 shots found the mark, including a TJ Brodie shot that bounced off the crossbar.
Toronto finally found the shooting range 4:31 at a time when Vancouver defender Quinn Hughes was unable to 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 so many games.
Matthews took a pass from Marner at 2-on-1 and timed the Holtby shot just 51 seconds into the second.
Vancouver’s newcomer Kole Lind collected his team’s third shot shortly afterwards, but Engvall finished a nice pass with Spezza and Rasmus Sandin in 2:56 with his fourth hit to 3-0.
Miller got one back, leaving 4:24 in the period when the puck bounced to the wing in a power play and took 11th place for Rittich.
The Leafs finished 54.9 seconds before the law when Alexander Kerfoot stole the puck from Holtby and led Marner to his eighteen.
Both teams close their Saturday series of nine games in Toronto on Saturday.
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