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game recap

Matthews, Nylander help Maple Leafs top Sabres

Toronto matches single-season record for points in win

by Dave McCarthy / NHL.com Correspondent

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs matched their record for points in a season with a 5-2 win against the Buffalo Sabres at Air Canada Centre on Monday.

The win gave the Maple Leafs 103 points, which they also had in 2003-04.

Auston Matthews and William Nylander each had two goals and an assist, and Andreas Johnsson scored for the Maple Leafs (48-25-7), who are 15-2-0 in their past 17 home games. 

 

[WATCH: All Sabres vs. Maple Leafs highlights]

 

"Home has been pretty good to us and we love playing here," Matthews said. "We definitely feel like we have an advantage every time we step into the arena here, so obviously it's showed."

Toronto is guaranteed to finish third in the Atlantic Division and will play either the Tampa Bay Lightning or Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"The biggest thing is staying healthy and playing good hockey while keeping your good habits and making sure you're ready to go," Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner said.

Curtis McElhinney made 32 saves in his second straight start. He is 11-5-1 this season.

Video: BUF@TOR: McElhinney makes two big kick saves

"Well I've obviously enjoyed the winning; that's always fun," McElhinney said. "The run support was there again tonight, it makes my job a lot easier. Anytime you get a bit of breathing room, it's a nice way to play the game."

Sam Reinhart and Jason Pominville scored, and Chad Johnson made 31 saves for the Sabres (25-42-12).

"I thought our first period was actually not bad; I think they're one of the top teams in the first period," Pominville said. "We knew they come out hard and I thought we got a great start, but our second wasn't what it needs to be. We got behind it and then we're chasing and they've got too much talent to chase the game."

Matthews gave the Maple Leafs a 2-1 lead with a power-play goal at 5:01 of the second period when he took a pass from Morgan Rielly and shot from the left face-off circle.

Video: BUF@TOR: Matthews nets top-shelf power-play goal

The Maple Leafs made it 3-1 at 7:39 when Matthews passed through the neutral zone to Nylander, who beat Johnson on a breakaway. 

"It's nice when you're able to get those plays," Nylander said. "It was a tight pass for the breakaway and it was a great pass by Matthews. If there's an opening he's going to try to get me the pass, so that's why I jumped to try to get there."

Nylander scored again when he took a pass from Zach Hyman in the slot to make it 4-1 at 10:32 of the second period. 

Pominville made it 4-2 at 2:56 of the third period with a power-play goal, but Matthews scored his second of the game 3:33 later. 

Johnsson opened the scoring at 5:44 of the first period when he one-timed a pass from Tomas Plekanec at the top of the goal crease. 

Reinhart tied it 1-1 at 2:27 of the second period on the power play when he deflected a point shot from Rasmus Ristolainen in the slot.

 

Goal of the game

Nylander's goal at 7:39 of the second period.

Video: Dunkin Donuts Breakaways: Nylander goes five-hole

 

Save of the game

McElhinney against Reinhart at 14:30 of the second period.

Video: BUF@TOR: McElhinney robs Reinhart on odd-man rush

 

Highlight of the game

Matthews' goal at 6:29 of the third period.

Video: BUF@TOR: Matthews buries his second PPG of the game

 

They said it

"You look at their roster, if you turn pucks over and make mistakes, even if it's three times a game, they could easily have three goals off those. We gave them too many looks coming through the neutral zone with the puck, and they're going to make you pay." -- Sabres forward Sam Reinhart

 

"He's a good player. I think tonight's game was a little looser than I'd like it. In saying all that though, those guys - [Morgan Rielly] and him - really get the puck going for us from the back. Jake is one of those guys who can just make plays. Real good hockey sense, knows where the puck is going next, a way better defender than people think as well. He's a good hockey player." -- Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock on defenseman Jake Gardiner

 

Need to know

Matthews has scored the most goals in Maple Leafs history over his first two NHL seasons (73), surpassing Wendel Clark's 71 combined goals during the 1985-86 and 1986-87 seasons. … Gardiner's assist on Matthews'second goal was his 50th point of the season, giving the Maple Leafs two defensemen (Rielly, 51) with at least 50 points for the first time since Tomas Kaberle (58) and Bryan McCabe (57) during the 2006-07 season.

 

What's next

Sabres: Host the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET; SN, TVAS, MSG-B, NHL.TV)

Maple Leafs: At the New Jersey Devils on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; MGS+, TSN4, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Leafs top Sabres, match club record for points

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