TORONTO - Auston Matthews scored his sixth hat trick of the season - and second in as many games - to give him an NHL-leading 48 goals as part of a five-point night in the Toronto Maple Leafs' resounding 9-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday.

William Nylander added a goal and set up two others to hit 500 career points for Toronto (29-16-8), while Bobby McMann, with two goals and an assist, Nick Robertson, with a goal and an assist, Jake McCabe and Tyler Bertuzzi provided the rest of the offence. Timothy Liljegren had three assists. Mitch Marner, Max Domi and Matthew Knies added two each.

Martin Jones made 19 saves for the Leafs, who leapfrogged Tampa Bay for third in the Atlantic Division after the Lightning were embarrassed 9-2 on home ice by the Florida Panthers.

Toronto became the 15th team in NHL history to record hat tricks in three straight games after McMann had the first of his career Tuesday and Matthews followed that up with three goals of his own Thursday.

Matthews is also the 10th different player to register six hat tricks in a season.

Ryan Strome, with a goal and an assist, and Frank Vatrano replied for badly overmatched Anaheim (19-33-2). Lukas Dostal allowed four goals on 18 shots in the first period before being replaced by John Gibson. The veteran netminder finished with nine stops.

Toronto defenceman Morgan Rielly served the third contest of his five-game suspension for cross-checking, while captain John Tavares sat out with what head coach Sheldon Keefe described as a minor injury. Veteran blueliner Mark Giordano also wasn't in the lineup following the death of his father Thursday.

On pace to become the first NHLer to reach 70 goals in a season since 1992-93, Matthews opened the scoring at 3:41.

Toronto went up 2-0 when McMann snapped his sixth on a power play at 6:06 before McCabe fired his fifth past Dostal, who stopped 55 of the 57 shots he faced Jan. 3 in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Leafs in California

Called into service with Ilya Samsonov given the night off, Jones didn't have much to do at the other end until Vatrano beat him for his 24th on a Ducks man advantage 59 seconds later.

But the Leafs restored their three-goal lead on another power play when Nylander buried his 28th - and 500th regular-season point - at 17:37.

Gibson replaced Dostal following the intermission, but Matthews scored his second of the night 50 seconds into the second on another man advantage, and Bertuzzi snapped a 19-game goal drought with his seventh to push Toronto to 4-for-4 on the power play at 2:51.

Matthews, who scored the OT winner on Dostal last month, completed the 13th hat trick all-time and the first five-point night of his career at 5:39 before chants of “M-V-P!” rang out around Scotiabank Arena.

McMann fired home his second of the night and seventh overall at 17:58 for an 8-1 lead.

Strome scored his ninth Anaheim with 4:24 left in regulation before Robertson buried his eighth with 2:06 remaining on the clock.

Saturday marked the first game against Toronto for Ducks defenceman Radko Gudas, who signed with Anaheim in the summer, after he helped Florida bounce the Leafs in the second round of last spring's playoffs.

The bruising blueliner drove the net on the Panthers' OT series clincher in Game 5 before screaming in the face of Toronto goaltender Joseph Woll.

Gudas fought Domi in the first, but appeared to decline multiple offers to drop the gloves with Leafs enforcer Ryan Reaves.


Bertuzzi entered Saturday with his coach's confidence intact despite that long goal drought.

“I still feel really strongly that this guy is going to be a very important player for us,” Keefe said of the summer free-agent signing. “This guy is fearless. He's a competitor. The higher the stakes get, he's going to rise to the occasion.”


Maple Leafs: Visit the St. Louis Blues for a Monday matinee.

Ducks: Visit the Buffalo Sabres on Monday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 17, 2024.