TORONTO — Even after teammate Auston Matthews left the game with a suspected head injury, Mitch Marner stayed hot to score in overtime to push the Toronto Maple Leafs to their 30th win and sixth straight on Monday.
Marner scored the tying goal with 5:48 left in the third period and again in the extra frame to extend his scoring streak to eight games in the 4-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes at Scotiabank Arena.
With 41.7 seconds left in the third period, Matthews tangled with Carolina forward Nino Niederreiter. As a result, Matthews lost his balance and crashed into the end boards.
He held his head and lay prone for a minute before skating towards the Maple Leafs locker room unassisted. He didn’t come back.
Matthews had scored his 30th and 31st goals late in the second period to give Toronto a 2-1 lead over former Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen. The two trained last summer together in Matthews’ hometown of Scottsdale, Arizona.
Toronto head coach Sheldon Keefe did not provide an update on Matthews’ status after the game, saying the center was still “under evaluation”. Matthews was due to have a day off Tuesday after his star-studded weekend in Las Vegas.
The Maple Leafs won’t play again until Thursday in Calgary against the Flames.
“He’s obviously a big part of our team,” Marner said. “He does a lot for us, especially in three-on-three hockey. I didn’t really see what happened. But of course, it’s a shame. I’ll try to watch him and make sure he’s okay.
“But I hope all goes well for him.”
All is well for Marner, Matthews and the Maple Leafs (30-10-3). Matthews has scored six times in his last three outings, while Marner has 10 goals in eight games.
“As for the forecheck, I think that’s what allowed us to create a lot of goals,” Marner said.
Marner and Matthews shared the spotlight on Monday with backup goaltender Petr Mrazek, who made 28 saves to defeat his former team. He was great after Matthews tied the game in the second period with a breakaway save on Carolina center Sebastian Aho.
“I just tried to make myself bigger and stay focused and on my feet,” Mrazek said when asked if he had an edge after watching Aho train for three seasons in Carolina together.
It was Carolina’s first visit to Toronto since embarrassing the Maple Leafs with a 6-3 win on Feb. 22, 2020, when they were forced to use the emergency backup goalie David Ayres, a local pilot from Zamboni.
The Hurricanes (31-10-2) arrived at Scotiabank Arena on Monday with a five-game winning streak and top of the Metropolitan Division.
Carolina took a 1-0 lead midway through the first period on a Niederreiter redirect. But then Matthews got to work with a power-play goal sinking a loose puck into the slot and a hard drive from the slot 3:21 later.
The Hurricanes regained the lead with a goal from Tony DeAngelo eight seconds into the third period and a rebound from Derek Stepan midway through the final period.
Marner then provided his late game exploits.
“It was a bit of a crazy game there with the lead taken away from us and then coming back to tie the game,” he said. “I think the work ethic and the battle we had tonight is something we talked about wanting to do more of in the second half, and tonight was a good night to start that.”
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on February 7, 2022.