Devils Defeat Maple Leafs 6-5, Matthews Scores 68th | 4/11/2024

Photo: Nathan Denette via The Canadian Press

Jesper Bratt scored the go-ahead goal for New Jersey to secure a 6-5 victory on Thursday, April 11th at the Scotiabank Arena. The Devils had already been eliminated from playoff contention last game, which was on Tuesday at home that had also been against the Maple Leafs. Auston Matthews scored both his 67th and 68th goals, only two goals away from the big 70. It had been a close back-and-forth goal game up until the last 1:24 when Bratt decided to wrap it up. The Devils have two games remaining, against both the Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Islanders. The Maple Leafs have three games left, all against the Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Devils lineup against the Maple Leafs:

Clarke – Hischier – Bratt

Meier – Haula – Mercer

Palat – Bowers – Holtz

MacDermid – Tierney – Foote

Hughes – Marino

Bahl – Smith

Siegenthaler – Nemec

Allen

Kahkonen

Maple Leafs lineup against the Devils:

Bertuzzi – Matthews – Domi

McMann – Tavares – Marner

Robertson – Holmberg – Nylander

Knies – Kampf – Dewar

Rielly – Lyubushkin

Benoit – Giordano

Edmundson – Brodie

Samsonov

Woll

   It was an eventful game straight from the beginning as there had been back-and-forth goals from both teams, more than two players on hat trick watch, penalties, and strong Devils power plays.

   Only 18 seconds in, John Tavares cut around Luke Hughes in the left circle to beat Jake Allen as he fell to his knees with a wrist shot after receiving a pass from Mitch Marner. This had been Tavares’ 25th goal of the season and Marner’s fourth assist since his return to the lineup. Erik Haula tied it 1-1 just 21 seconds later after he collected a loose puck off a giveaway from TJ Brodie, and then shot past the left pad of Ilya Samsonov. At 13:52, Auston Matthews put the Maple Leafs back in the lead 2-1 when he shot past Allen from the right circle off a pass by Max Domi for his 67th, and Nolan Foote made it even 2-2 soon after with his first goal of the season. Foote intercepted Mark Giordano’s lead pass from the right face-off dot to put a backhand around Samsonov. Timo Meier took a pass from Jesper Bratt at the right face-off dot and scored on a one-timer on a power play to give New Jersey a 3-2 lead.

   Auston Matthews struck his second of the night for his 68th league-leading goal of the season to tie it back up 3-3 at 12:01 of the middle frame. Matthews redirected Max Domi’s centering pass at the top of the crease, scoring his ninth goal in the past seven games during a 13-game point streak (24 points; 13 goals, 11 assists). David Kampf put Toronto back on top 4-3 at 10:44 with his eighth of the season when he slipped a shot through Jake Allen’s pads off a pass from Connor Dewar. Later into the second, Timo Meier recorded his second goal of the game, as well as his 27th of the season to tie it 4-4. After a face-off win by Nico Hischier, Meier sent a one-timer past Ilya Samsonov from the high slot.

   At 8:57 of the final frame, Jesper Bratt scored off a one-timer when Luke Hughes sent him a pass from the top of the right circle on a power play. John Tavares tied it 5-5 with his 26th of the season and second of the game when he shot over Jake Allen’s glove. Before he had scored, Morgan Rielly passed to Tavares from the goal line after carrying the puck into the offensive zone. With 1:14 remaining in regulation, Bratt beat Samsonov with a wrister for the go-ahead goal to get the 6-5 final.

Jesper Bratt on the Devils’ 6-5 victory in Toronto: “Today, I think we really showed how strong of a team effort we can put in and come back in these really hard emotional games. It was a fast-paced game, and it’s sometimes an emotional roller coaster playing games like this – We stuck with it and came out with a huge win that we as a team should feel pretty good about.”

Timo Meier on the game overall: “It was a fun game to play. I thought it wasn’t perfect but effort-wise, I thought we did a great job… then ‘Bratter’ at the end there, huge goal. It definitely feels good, it doesn’t matter where you’re at in the season, winning is fun. We got a great group, and obviously, we haven’t achieved what we wanted this year… but just this tonight shows that winning is fun.”

Max Domi on the Maple Leafs’ loss and how they played: “You got to give them credit – They came out hungry. I thought for some of the game, it was a little bit of a track meet. They’re still a good team, so when you get into a back-and-forth battle like that, they’re in a good spot,” – “We found ways to stay in the game, battle back, and it just wasn’t enough in the end.”

Auston Matthews on the performance tonight: “I just thought it was a little bit sloppy at times, it just didn’t seem like we were as dialed in as we should have been tonight. Obviously, a team with a lot of speed and a lot of skill, when you are careless with the puck, they can make you pay.”

Notes:

– Timo Meier recorded two goals and an assist, and Jake Allen made a total of 27 saves for New Jersey.

– In the Devils lineup, they had three younger players who had some strong and important moments throughout this game. Those being, Nolan Foote, Graeme Clarke, and Shane Bowers.

– Luke Hughes had made franchise history in this game when he assisted on Timo Meier’s power-play goal. It had been his 24th point on the man-advantage, which sets a new record for the most power-play points by a rookie defenseman in a single season. This record had been previously held by Will Butcher who recorded 23 points during the 2017-18 season.

  Hughes has had a great rookie season so far as he has 47 points (nine goals, 38 assists).

– Auston Matthews is currently two goals away from 70, and after his first goal tonight, he passed Steven Stamkos (36 in the 2011-12 season) with the most home goals in the 2023-24 season (37) for the most home goals in a single season by an active player.

  Matthews’ first goal of the game marked his 366th NHL career goal to pass Dave Keon for the third-most in Maple Leafs history. He currently trails Mats Sundin by 53 and Darryl Sitter by 22.

– William Nylander played in his 600th NHL game. He has a total of 526 points (217 goals and 309 assists)

– Max Domi recorded two assists, so did Mitch Marner, and Ilya Samsonov made a total of 14 saves for Toronto.

  Marner was on a roll the whole game attempting to get a shot past Jake Allen. If he would’ve scored, it would have been his first goal since making a return to the lineup.

– Joel Edmundson made his return to the lineup since being out after blocking a shot in a 2-1 loss on March 24th against the Carolina Hurricanes. He was minus-1 in 19:22.

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Genevive Oliver

I'm a 17-year-old writer and a beginner photographer! I'm a huge hockey, baseball, boxing, and basketball fan.

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