Marner's hat trick, shootout winner leads Leafs over Kraken 4-3
Toronto Maple Leafs' Mitchell Marner celebrates scoring the shootout winner against the Seattle Kraken in NHL hockey action in Toronto, on Thursday, November 30, 2023.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, November 30, 2023 10:27PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, November 30, 2023 10:27PM EST
TORONTO - Mitch Marner scored the shootout winner after registering the second hat trick of his career to emphatically snap an eight-game goal drought as the Toronto Maple Leafs survived a blown 3-1 lead in the third period to defeat the Seattle Kraken 4-3 on Thursday.
Auston Matthews also scored in the shootout and had two assists in regulation for Toronto (12-6-3). Joseph Woll made 37 saves through 65 minutes and two more in the shootout.
Jared McCann, with two goals, and Eeli Tolvanen replied for Seattle (8-10-3). Philipp Grubauer stopped 25 shots.
Without a point in his last three outings, Marner had been a focus of attention over the last stretch in Toronto for admittedly sub-par play - along with Matthews - on the Leafs' top line.
Head coach Sheldon Keefe split up his dynamic duo ahead of Tuesday's 2-1 shootout win over Florida looking for a spark.
It arrived Thursday.
Marner's three-goal performance was his first since Feb. 26, 2022, at Detroit. Matthews put up back-to-back hat tricks to open the season before adding another Nov. 4 against Buffalo.
The Leafs were forced to dig deep into their defence reserves Thursday with Mark Giordano (broken finger) joining Timothy Liljegren (ankle) and John Klingberg (hip) on the sidelines after taking a shot off his hand in Tuesday's victory.
Sporting a fishbowl on his helmet after taking a puck to the jaw against Florida, Marner opened the scoring at 6:34 of the first period on a power play off a nice pass from William Nylander for his sixth goal of the season to end that long dry spell.
Matthews had the other assist for the 564th point of his career to move past Bob Pulford for sole possession of ninth place on the Leafs' all-time list.
Nylander had a great chance off a Seattle giveaway, but Grubauer pulled out an old-school poke check to deny the winger before Morgan Rielly hit the post in the dying seconds of the period with Toronto on another power play.
Marner made it 2-0 just 21 seconds after the break on a one-timer that took a deflection right as the Seattle penalty was expiring.
McCann, who was a member of the Leafs for less than a week in July 2021 before being claimed in the expansion draft, got the visitors on the board when he snapped his team-leading 10th past Woll on a Kraken man advantage at 3:37.
Seattle carried a lot of the play from there until Marner took a breakaway pass from Jake McCabe and fired upstairs for his third of the night and eighth of the campaign to send hats streaming onto the ice from an adoring Scotiabank Arena crowd.
Tolvanen scored his sixth off the rush at 6:15 of the third period to make it 3-2 before McCann tied it at 13:24.
Woll made three huge stops in the extra period for Toronto, including a massive save on Jordan Eberle to force the shootout.
The 25-year-old rookie made his third straight start ahead of Ilya Samsonov. “That's the message throughout the team,” Keefe said Wednesday. “If you want to play more, play better.”
The 29-year-old played his 740th regular-season game to move past Bob Baun for fourth on Toronto's all-time list for defencemen.
Kraken blueliner Vince Dunn entered play tied for the team lead with 19 points in 23 games. The 27-year-old also headed into Thursday even with Cale Makar for the third-most points by a defenceman in 2023 with 64, behind Quinn Hughes (79) and Erik Karlsson (68).
Toronto hosts Boston on Saturday, while Seattle visits Ottawa.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2023.