Matthews scores twice, leads Maple Leafs over Blue Jackets
Matthews scored for the seventh consecutive game. He has 12 goals during the streak, running his NHL-leading total to 28 on the season.
William Nylander had a short-handed goal and two assists, extending his point streak to 11 games while helping Toronto stop a two-game slide. John Tavares also scored, and Mitchell Marner had two assists.
“We wanted to go into the (holiday) break feeling good, especially how things went the other night,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said, referencing the team's 9-3 loss in Buffalo on Thursday night. “I was happy how the guys responded.”
Columbus lost centre Sean Kuraly with 18.3 seconds left in the first period after he suffered an abdominal injury and was helped to the locker room. The period was suspended and the remaining time was played just before the start of the second.
The Blue Jackets said the injury did not appear to be serious, but Kuraly was taken to hospital for further evaluation.
Matthews put Toronto in front with a one-timer 8:20 into the first. He is the first player with 27 or more goals through the first 30 games of a season since Jaromir Jagr in the 1996-1997 season.
“I’m just trying to attack, shoot the puck and utilize my shot, trying to get in open space and just staying focused out there,” Matthews said. “(I'm) taking one shift at a time and not getting too carried away with results.”
The teams traded goals to start the second. Danforth tied it with his eighth of the season at 22 seconds, and Tavares made it 2-1 at 2:58 during a stretch of 4-on-4 play.
“What we’ve learned today is managing the puck against a very talented hockey team,” Blue Jackets coach Pascale Vincent said. “Once we started to play north, we were a much better team.”
Matthews added to Toronto’s lead with a power-play goal at 8:21 of the second. Nylander made it 4-1 with his 16th of the season 11:51 into the third.
Maple Leafs goaltender Martin Jones made 27 saves.
Maple Leafs: Host Ottawa on Wednesday.
Blue Jackets: Visit New Jersey on Wednesday.
AP NHL: https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL