TORONTO - William Nylander scored 54 seconds into overtime after Auston Matthews registered a natural hat trick in the second period to give him an NHL-leading 45 goals on the season as the Toronto Maple Leafs survived a blown 3-1 lead late in regulation to down the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 on Thursday.

Ilya Samsonov made 29 saves for Toronto (28-16-8). Mitch Marner had three assists, while Timothy Liljegren had two of his own.

Held off the scoresheet Tuesday when undrafted fourth-line forward Bobby McMann registered the first hat trick of his career in a 4-1 victory over St. Louis, Matthews completed his three-goal outburst in a 7:49 span to put him on a 71-goal pace through 51 games.

Travis Konecny, with a goal and an assist, Travis Sanheim and Garnet Hathaway replied for Philadelphia (29-19-7), which had won four in a row after losing five straight in regulation heading into the all-star break.

Samuel Ersson stopped 24 shots in defeat.

Nylander's winner came after Liljegren moved the puck up the ice and fed the winger for him to bury his 27th of the campaign.

Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly served the second contest of his five-game suspension for cross-checking, but Toronto had Marner and John Tavares back in the lineup after both sat out Tuesday because of illness. Nylander, who missed Wednesday's practice, was also good to go for the home side.

Down 1-0 after a sluggish first period, the Leafs got even at 11:06 of the second when Matthews took a stretch pass from Marner before firing past Ersson's glove.

Toronto went up 2-1 on a power play at 14:20 when Matthews blasted a one-timer off a Marner feed.

And the sniper then completed the 12th hat trick of his career with 65 seconds left in the period when he ripped another shot that Ersson could only wave at before it flew into Philadelphia's net.

The fifth three-goal performance of 2023-24 for Matthews tied a franchise record for the most in a season he now shares with Reg Noble (1917-18), Babe Dye (1924-25) and Darryl Sittler (1980-81).

Matthews also registered his 72nd career multi-goal game to overtake Sittler's franchise mark of 71.

The 26-year-old is looking to become the first NHLer to hit 70 goals since Teemu Selanne and Alexander Mogilny both scored 76 in 1992-93.

Ersson denied Matthews, who scored four times in his NHL debut back in 2016, of his 46th in the third on a Toronto power play.

That sequence kept the comeback door ajar before the Flyers burst through.

Hathaway scored his fifth on a rebound with 5:46 left in regulation to cut Philadelphia's deficit to one before Konecny scored his 26th on a power-play scramble 61 seconds later to tie it 3-3.

Philadelphia opened the scoring at 7:42 of the first when the NHL's second-ranked penalty kill struck for its league-leading 13th short-handed goal.

Konecny hit the post on a partial breakaway, but Scott Laughton fed in front to a wide-open Sanheim, who made a nice move on Samsonov before burying his fifth.

The Leafs goaltender kept his team in it with a couple of big stops later in the period and again early in the second before Matthews struck three times in quick succession.


Philadelphia named Sean Couturier the 20th captain in franchise history Wednesday.

“Really honoured and happy,” the veteran centre said Thursday morning. “It's going to be business as usual. We've got a good thing going on right now. Just gotta keep it rolling.”


McMann had a number of text messages post-game Tuesday following his hat trick, but cherished a phone conversation with his dad.

“Being able to relive it a little bit with him - talk through it - was pretty cool,” McMann said. “He was still a little bit shocked.”


The NHL's 32 teams have made a combined 13 coaching changes since the end of last season.

Flyers bench boss John Tortorella was asked about the craft's current volatility before Thursday's game.

“I think coaching has, and I think coaching always will be, one of the most disrespected positions in the game,” he said. “It's easy to do … easy to get rid of the guy.”


Toronto hosts Anaheim on Saturday, while Philadelphia is set to meet New Jersey outdoors at MetLife Stadium - home of the NFL's New York Giants and New York Jets - as part of the NHL Stadium Series.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 15, 2024.