TORONTO (AP) Auston Matthews scored two late goals to complete a hat trick and Mitch Marner had the lone shootout goal in the Toronto Maple Leafs' 6-5 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night in their season opener.
After the Maple Leafs fought back from 2-0 and 5-3 deficits, Marner moved in on Jake Allen and fired upstairs on Toronto’s third attempt. Ilya Samsonov then stopped Kirby Dach at the other end to seal it.
“No quit in our group - proud of that,” Marner said.
Matthews scored his 300th, 301st and 302nd goals for his eighth hat trick, William Nylander, with a goal and an assist, and Noah Gregor also scored in regulation for Toronto. Samsonov made 19 saves.
“Bit of a roller-coaster,” Matthews said. “Nice to get the win, (but) there’s a lot of things that we can definitely clean up.”
John Tavares had three assists for Toronto, while John Klingberg - in his first game with the Maple Leafs - chipped in with two.
Alex Newhook scored twice for Montreal. Cole Caufield, Jake Evans and Jesse Ylonen also scored and Allen stopped 37 shots.
“There’s emotional swings,” said Dach, who had two assists. “We’ve got to find ways to keep on moving forward and keeping rolling the way we were rolling. We took our foot off the gas pedal.”
Trailing 3-2 early in the third period after conceding that two-goal edge, the Canadiens got even at 4:25 on a power play when Caufield’s shot hit the stick of defenseman T.J. Brodie.
Montreal took the lead 1:22 later when Newhook, acquired from Colorado in June, tipped a point shot past Samsonov moments after the goalie robbed Dach.
Ylonen made it 5-3 at 11:55 when he jumped on defenseman Timothy Liljegren's turnover and roofed a backhander.
But Matthews scored his second of the night with 4:32 left with Samsonov on the bench when he beat Allen from a tough angle before completing the hat trick with 1:07 remaining to send Scotiabank Arena into a frenzy.
“That’s what you need from your best people at times when it’s looking dire,” Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said. “The game’s kind of slipping away … I would like it to start that way and get out in front of it. But I liked the way that those guys responded.”
Canadiens: Host Chicago on Saturday night.
Maple Leafs: Host Minnesota on Saturday night.
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