Watch live at 7 p.m. ET as the Toronto Maple Leafs visit the Montreal Canadiens
MONTREAL (AP) It took Auston Matthews just two periods to get into his routine.
After missing four games with an upper-body injury, Matthews scored twice in the third period to help the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Canadiens 6-0 in Montreal on Saturday night for their sixth straight victory.
Ron Hainsey and Nazem Kadri scored 37 seconds in the second period and James van Riemsdyk and Connor Brown also scored for Toronto. Frederik Andersen stopped 33 shots for his second consecutive shutout.
Matthews’ first goal, when he was left alone to receive a pass from Mitch Marner and score, allowed the Maple Leafs to go up 5-0 and chase Canadian goalkeeper Charlie Lindgren at 8:59 of the third. His second shot, a rocket shot in the upper left corner, gave the opportunity to goalkeeper Antti Niemi.
“It feels good to be back,” Matthews said. I did not feel too hot during the first two periods, but I think it’s part of going back and not playing four games.
“Obviously there is room for improvement, but entering this building will not be easy, a great victory tonight, for sure, our goalkeeper was incredible.”
The Maple Leafs had just won a 1-0 overtime victory over New Jersey two nights earlier when Andersen made 42 saves.
Lindgren finished with 22 saves, allowing five goals for the second consecutive game. He was replaced at 9:39 on the third by Antti Niemi, who stopped three of the four shots he faced in his first game against Montreal after being eliminated this week.
“We had a good performance in the first period, but we collapsed in the second period,” said Montreal coach Claude Julien. “The scoreline says it all.”
The Canadians controlled most of the game in the first 20 minutes, beating Toronto 16-6, but could not beat Andersen.
Toronto coach Mike Babcock juggled his lines and it worked. That included the combination of Matthews and Marner (with Matt Martin), a combination that has not always been effective. Marner helped with Matthews’ two goals.
“It went well,” said Matthews. “We have so many good players on our team, so many skillful guys who can play.
Obviously, I and Mitch have a good relationship off the track, Marty too, so it gives you a good spark when you play with some friends that you can not play with much. I think that’s true for the four lines. We had some time together last year. I guess we did some games and we had a lot of fun, but I do not think we scored a goal, so it’s good to go out with him and create an offense and put a little bit of the net.
Andersen made a smart win over Brendan Gallagher when the Maple Leafs opened the scoring with 7:53 at the end of the second period.
Kadri scored 37 seconds later on the next hit in Toronto, a poor shooter who deflected Lindgren’s shoulder to extend his six-game streak.
Brown scored 25 seconds in the third when he lifted the rebound from Nikita Zaitsev’s shot over Lindgren from the door. Tyler Bozak’s pass escaped from Karl Alzner to van Riemsdyk, who made his tenth of the season at 8:11 to take the score to 4-0.
Only 48 seconds later, Matthews was just ahead to receive a pass from Marner and added another, the 12th, with 4:33 to play when he fired a wrist shot in the top corner after Niemi.
NOTES: The Maple Leafs, without a win over Montreal over the past two years, have won two straight victories against the Canadiens for the first time since 2013. Toronto won 4-3 in overtime against Montreal on October 14. On the occasion of the NHL centenary, six members of the Hall of Fame participated in the opening ceremony: Dave Keon, Yvon Cournoyer, Rod Gilbert, Frank Mahovlich, Ray Bourque and Denis Savard. Mahovlich and Savard came out with a shirt from Red Wings and Blackhawks, respectively, but they took them off to reveal the shirts of the Canadians. Both ended their career in Montreal.