MATTHEWS, LAINE DUEL AS MAPLE LEAFS WIN OT THRILLER
Rookie forwards Auston Matthews (0-3—3) and Patrik Laine (2-0—2) – the top two picks from the 2016 NHL Draft – each recorded multiple points in their second and final meeting of the season as the Maple Leafs defeated the Jets in thrilling fashion, with Matthews notching the lone assist on Jake Gardiner’s overtime goal.
At 28-20-11 (67 points), the Maple Leafs again leapfrogged the idle Panthers (28-20-10, 66 points) and Bruins (30-23-6, 66 points) into third place in the Atlantic Division. Elias notes that Matthews, 19, became just the second teenager in franchise history to record at least 50 points in a season (28-24—52), joining Ted Kennedy who tallied 29-25—54 as a 19-year-old in 1944-45 (49 GP).
Matthews registered at least three points for the fourth time this season to move within two points of Laine (30-24—54) for the rookie scoring lead. William Nylander (1-1—2) factored on two tying goals for the Maple Leafs, who have three players among the top four in rookie scoring: Matthews, Mitchell Marner (15-33—48) and Nylander (17-25—42).
Laine, who has five goals in two games vs. TOR this season (also 3-0—3 on Oct. 19), became the first rookie in Jets/Thrashers franchise history to score 30 goals in a season, besting the previous mark of 29 set by Ilya Kovalchuk in 2001-02. Elias notes that Laine, who ranks second in goals behind Sidney Crosby (33), became just the fifth rookie in the past 25 seasons to score 30 goals in 55 or fewer games played.
Sidney Crosby scored his League-leading 33rd goal (fifth GWG) to help the Penguins win their final game before facing the Flyers in the 2017 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series . . . Nikita Kucherov (1-3—4) helped the Lighting extend their point streak to seven games (5-0-2) . . . The Islanders (28-21-10, 66 points) and Kings (29-26-4, 62 points) earned wins to inch closer to Wild Card spots . . . As part of their centennial anniversary, the Maple Leafs will pay tribute to one of the earliest eras of their history by wearing Toronto St. Pats uniforms for their game against the Blackhawks on March 18 . . . Penguins forwardsConor Sheary and Bryan Rust, and Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Arthur Moats will visit Heinz Field in Pittsburgh today as the rink build nears completion ahead of Saturday’s outdoor game . . . The Blue Jackets organization marked Hockey Week Across America with a sled hockey game at their outdoor facility . . . The Red Wings hosted more than 50 youth and adult players at their morning skate as part of Hockey Is For Everyone month . . . Alex Delvecchio, one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players, dropped the ceremonial puck ahead of the Islanders-Red Wings game at Joe Louis Arena.
* Information provided via NHL Press Release