TORONTO — William Nylander and Mitchell Marner each scored as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the New York Islanders 4-2 without Auston Matthews on Sunday night.
The Toronto win sets a franchise record for both wins (50) and points (106) in a season.
Pierre Engvall also had a goal for Toronto (50-20-6), while Jack Campbell put up 28 saves to pick up the win.
Anthony Beauvillier scored the first goal of the game when he beat Campbell on the power play in the first period. Josh Bailey also was credited with a goal for the Islanders (35-36-9), even though the goal was directed into the Toronto net by Leafs forward Alex Kerfoot.
The loss eliminated the Islanders from playoff contention.
Campbell stood strong in the last five minutes of the third period as the Islanders pushed hard for the tying goal before David Kämpf scored an empty-netter with 8.1 seconds left to seal the historic win.
Toronto previously set a franchise high in both wins and points in the 2017-18 season.
“We’ve got a great group in here,” said Campbell after the record-setting win. “Our coach has done a great job leading the way, and I think all the boys are really growing together.”
The Leafs achieved the franchise milestone without Matthews, who missed the game with what the team stressed was a minor injury. Toronto head coach Sheldon Keefe took the opportunity with his top centre out to try out some new forward combinations as the team begins to ramp up for the playoffs.
“I was really happy with that,” said Keefe “I think with what I was looking to accomplish today … I was happy with it.”
The Islanders opened the scoring partway through the first period, as Beauvillier scored his 12th goal of the season with the man advantage after Michael Bunting got called for holding.
The Leafs were able to match just three minutes later, however, as Marner stayed hot with his 34th goal of the season, and his 26th in his last 40 games. The Toronto winger potted a rebound off a sharp-angled Mark Giordano shot to tie the game just over three minutes after Beauvillier opened the scoring.
The second period got off to an inauspicious start for Toronto as Alex Kerfoot put the puck into his own net just 31 seconds after the middle frame got underway.
Kerfoot, who was trying to knock the puck off of Islanders winger Josh Bailey’s stick, ended up pushing it under Jack Campbell’s pad to give the Islanders a one-goal lead once again. Bailey ended up with credit for the goal, his 11th of the year.
“Just a bad play on my part, a bit of an unfortunate bounce,” said Kerfoot. “Bailey had a good stick … but you can’t do much about it once it's done, you just move on.”
Kerfoot made up for his mistake just ten minutes later, though, by feeding Pierre Engvall on a well-executed two-on-one rush. Engvall made no mistake and tied the game at two apiece before his Swedish countryman Nylander put Toronto on top less than three minutes later.
Nylander’s power-play marker put Toronto up for the first time in the game more than halfway through the second period. The goal, his 31st of the season, tied the winger’s career-high mark, a fact that was news to the former eighth-overall pick.
“I thought I had more,” Nylander said while laughing. “That’s something that you’d like to beat, but in the end, you’re just getting ready for the playoffs. It’s my job to score goals, so hopefully I can score some more.”
Toronto came out strong in the third period, as Wayne Simmonds drew a tripping call against Zdeno Chara. That then became a two-man advantage when Islanders defenceman Adam Pelech got called for putting the puck over the glass just 39 seconds into the penalty kill.
The Leafs were unable to score on the five-on-three, however, which opened the door for a late Islanders rally before Kämpf recovered a puck off the end boards to close out the win.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 17, 2022.