Matthews scores winner, Samsonov shines as Leafs down Jets 1-0 in OT
Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews (34) protects the puck from a sliding Winnipeg Jets forward Nikolaj Ehlers (27) during overtime NHL hockey action in Toronto on Wednesday, January 24, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, January 24, 2024 10:14PM EST
TORONTO - Auston Matthews scored at 4:13 of overtime as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Winnipeg Jets 1-0 on Wednesday night.
Ilya Samsonov was excellent in making 32 saves for Toronto (24-14-8) to register his second shutout of the season.
Laurent Brossoit stopped 29 shots for Winnipeg (30-11-5), which has lost two straight games for the first time since late November.
Winnipeg started the extra period with 1:25 of power-play time after Toronto forward Calle Jarnkrok tripped Jets counterpart Mason Appleton late in regulation, but Samsonov stood tall.
With the game looking destined for a shootout, Matthews took a pass from Morgan Rielly at the lip of Brossoit's crease to redirect his 39th goal of the season.
The Leafs spilled off the bench in celebration, with most of the team heading to Samsonov's end of the rink.
The Jets, who entered play third in the NHL's overall standings, saw a streak of 34 consecutive games where they allowed three goals or fewer come to an end with Monday's 4-1 defeat in Boston.
Toronto came into Wednesday 2-4-1 over its last seven games, including a 2-2-0 road trip that culminated with Sunday's 3-1 victory in Seattle where Samsonov showed flashes of the goaltender who led the Leafs to their first playoff series victory in nearly two decades last spring.
Winnipeg was faster and harder on pucks in the opening period, taking advantage of plenty of sloppy Toronto play that kept Samsonov - battling back into form after getting demoted to the American Hockey League last month - busy in an opening 20 minutes where the Jets held a 16-4 edge on the shot clock.
The Leafs' struggling power play - 1-for-15 in its last seven games - got a chance early in the second, but Winnipeg had the best chance on a 2-on-0 rush the other way, with Samsonov denying both Adam Lowry and Morgan Barron.
Toronto head coach Sheldon Keefe lit into his team on the bench in the immediate aftermath, and then benched star forwards Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander when his team got another man advantage later in the period.
The Leafs started to play better from there with some decent chances, including a couple of shots off the stick of winger Nick Robertson.
Toronto got its third power play with five minutes to go in the second, but Keefe wasn't done sending a message to his big guns by starting the team's No. 2 unit.
Matthews, Marner, Nylander, Rielly and John Tavares started the Leafs' fourth power play early in the third. The group snapped the puck around with more authority, but were unable to find the range.
Samsonov then stopped Rasmus Kupari on a 2-on-1 to keep the teams deadlocked before Toronto got a fifth power play - Winnipeg had none until that point - that was cut short when Nylander went off for boarding with 3:40 left in regulation.
MORRISSEY HURT; SCHEIFELE, VALARDI SIT
Winnipeg defenceman Josh Morrissey left in the second period with a lower-body injury. Jets centre Mark Scheifele (lower-body injury) skated Wednesday morning, but missed his fifth consecutive game. Fellow top-line forward Gabriel Vilardi (lower-body) sat out a second straight contest.
Leafs winger Tyler Bertuzzi didn't dress as he and his wife await the birth of their second child.
Winnipeg hosts Toronto on Saturday in the rematch before the teams' bye week ahead of the all-star break.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2024.