Auston Matthews salvaged a point for the Toronto Maple Leafs just before the buzzer, scoring his 30th and 31st goals of the season (before also converting in the shootout) as the Leafs picked up a loser point vs. Winnipeg on Wednesday night.

Your game in ten:

1.  One area where the Leafs were looking to respond after the Edmonton loss was their start on home ice, which was much better in this game despite conceding the first goal. They did a good job of shaking off the Frederik Andersen faux pas for the 1-0 Jets goal, and there was a good jump in their legs early. The 1-1 Auston Matthews equalizer was not only beautifully worked between him and Marner but also started with Matthews tracking back hard through the neutral zone to strip a puck and kick off the sequence leading to the goal. That’s what the Leafs didn’t have a ton if in the Oilers game: that kind of determination coming back, forcing neutral zone stops and transitions the other way.

2.  There were definitely stretches of open hockey like we’re used to seeing in Jets-Leafs games, but it was largely a different type of game than the 6-3 Leafs win last week. The Jets led as opposed to trailing for much of the game, and they tried to play a tidier road game in terms of defending their leads. The Leafs spent a lot of time chasing and battling for pucks in the o-zone — which the Jets won their fair share of and were pretty safe about getting pucks out and in — and not as much time in control zipping it around the zone; there wasn’t quite that same feeling of inevitability to their offense in the o-zone. It was a scrappier, sloppier game for the Leafs in terms of generating offense.

3.  Winnipeg also defended well in the third, and just about killed off the game in impressive fashion — they had strong sticks, were stiff inside, won their battles, got pucks out, and generated a few chances when they could. Overall, they were hungrier defending than the Leafs were in their determination offensively in the third period. There wasn’t much coming by way of scoring chances as the Leafs tried to make their push; it was one of their weaker third-period come-from-behind efforts in a while until Auston Matthews pulled it out of the fire in the final seconds off the offensive-zone draw.

4. At the same time, the Leafs didn’t give up all that much at the other end. There were some sequences in the second where the neutral zone became a little loose again, but by and large, they didn’t give up a ton of grade-As either off the rush or the cycle. Their goals against were totally avoidable and the result of individual mistakes more than any sort of structure breakdown or significant zone time against.

The new Dermott – Holl pairing did give up the one goal after Holl got caught as the fourth man in deep on an errant/tipped pass for a 3-on-1 against, but it was otherwise a low-event night for them in their audition in the top matchup role — four shots for, five shots against, and basically even in possession at 5v5 vs. the Scheifele line. After the game, Keefe commented that he liked their defensive work in terms of their gaps and defending their line. Based on that, it sounds like they’ll get a second look against Barkov’s line in Florida on Sunday.

5.  John Tavares has now had a couple of games in a row that he’ll want to have back — he took a penalty in the offensive zone, coughed it up as last man back for the 2-1 shorthanded goal, had his pass tipped (by a good defensive stick, granted) for the turnover prior to the 3-2, turned it over several times in 3-on-3 OT, and generally just couldn’t get much to go his way throughout the night. In marquee matchups against elite players/lines at home, and without their matchup pairing on defense settled, the Leafs needed him to be more dialled-in for these last two games — to own the puck more and take care of the details better than he did. Knowing Tavares’ competitive fire, he’ll wish there was a game tomorrow to fix it as opposed to a three-day break, but there will no doubt be a bounce back coming from a player who has been excellent since the coaching change. It’s a long season; these things happen.

6.  Quietly, despite averaging just 6:30 per game, Adam Brooks is up to three points in five games after an assist on Dmytro Timashov’s goal, which was a nice swing in the game for the Leafs considering it came immediately after a Jets power play. It’s been difficult to get a feel for the different fourth lines under Keefe given their limited minutes, but Brooks has good hustle, a bit of guile to his game offensively, and has definitely made noticeable skating improvements in his time as a pro. You’d ideally prefer someone in his spot with a bit more heft to his game in terms of the crashing and banging elements, but he’s not shy about going to the hard areas of the ice.

With Johnsson sounding like he’s nearing a return, it will be interesting to watch what Keefe does with his bottom six — in terms of where Johnsson slots, whether Kerfoot returns to the middle or stays at LW, if Spezza takes back over as 4C, and whether Brooks or Gauthier remains in on the fourth line, although we can expect a continued rotation based on Keefe’s track record.

7.  Speaking of limited minutes, Dmytro Timashov’s second-period goal came in his 23 seconds of ice time in that period, and he ended the game with just 2:49 total. His minutes overall have dropped from nine minutes a game under Babcock to 7:30 under Keefe, although that’s largely a byproduct of the increase in the minutes share for the stars at the top of the lineup. It’s tough to say if there’s something specific Keefe didn’t like about his game tonight or if he simply wanted to get Pierre Engvall more ice time with how impactful Engvall has been of late. He rotated Engvall through the left side of that line for a handful of shifts, as he spent about 2:30 of his 11 minutes at 5v5 with Gauthier and Brooks.

8.  As if didn’t have enough going for him already in the goal-scoring department, Auston Matthews is even getting a few one-timers to go in for him this season — although his whippy stick is not really conducive to it (he flubbed one with a yawning cage early in the first and didn’t get good wood on another good one-time chance on the power play), and it appeared to be a bit of a rising wobbler over Hellebuyck towards the middle of the net for the 3-3 buzzer beater. Almost everything he touches right now is going in, though; while Matthews never lacks for confidence even when he’s experiencing a dip in goals, you can feel the belief emanating off of him that he can score on every shift, at any moment in the offensive zone.

Shot type tracking is far from accurate, but NHL.com has credited Matthews with 17 shots on goal by way of slap shots so far this season after 11 all of last year — which makes sense as he’s on his off wing on the power play (and is also showing for one-time plays high in the zone more often).

By scoring twice to reach goal #31 in game #45 of the season, Matthews has outdone even Tavares’ insane pace from last season, when he scored 29 goals in the team’s first 45 games. In franchise history, only Rick Vaive (35 goals in 44 games in 1984) and Dave Andreychuk (34 goals in 44 games in 1984) had a better goal-scoring run in the team’s first 45 games than Matthews just had; the most Mats Sundin ever scored by this point in a Leafs season was 25.

9.  Matthews is now just one back of David Pastrnak’s 32 for the league lead in goals. He’s leading the league with 23 goals at even-strength (Vrana is next at 19). In on-ice team stats, he’s leading the league among forwards in total shot attempts for — 794 (next is Max Pacioretty at 760). He’s second in the league in on-ice scoring chances for with 385.

He’s also now eighth in even-strength ice time per game and 17th in all-situations minutes played per game among forwards (min. 500 minutes played). He was 32nd and 64th, respectively, in those categories last season.

10.  Since the coaching change, Matthews is second in the league in even-strength minutes per game behind only Jack Eichel. He’s scored 17 goals in 22 games since Keefe took over the bench, with 13 coming at evens. He leads the league in both categories (even strength and all-situations goals) over that time.


Game Flow: 5v5 Shot Attempts

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Winnipeg Jets


Heat Map: 5v5 Shot Attempts

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Winnipeg Jets


Game Highlights: Jets 4 vs. Leafs 3 (SO)