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?Auston Matthews once again brought out his best hockey when the spotlight shines brightest.
Facing century-old rival Montreal on national television on a Saturday night, and with the Bell Centre seats packed with 21,302 fans, Matthews took a feed from William Nylander and wired a shot past Carey Price 48 seconds into overtime to lift the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 4-3 victory over the Canadiens.
The win ended Toronto’s 11-game winless run against Montreal dating back to a 5-3 victory on Jan. 18, 2014.
“It was a nice win for us, given the history,” said Leafs goaltender Frederik Anderson. “We wanted to change the narrative a little bit.”
It was Matthews’s second goal of the game and his second overtime winner in less than a week, having done the same in a 4-3 win at home over Chicago.
Matthews and his linemate Nylander started the overtime and were due to go off the ice when Montreal missed a scoring chance and the puck came back the other way. Nylander jumped on it to start a two-on-one, with Matthews controlling a wobbling puck and firing in the winner.
It gave him five goals in five games to start the season.
“For the most part we’ve always been like that, we’ll find each other,” Matthews said of Nylander. “The whole dynamic of our line has pretty much been with [Zach] Hyman and we just look for each other out there.
“Our main goal is to create offence, score goals and make plays to each other. We’re doing that. We’re working hard both ways.”
James van Riemsdyk and Patrick Marleau also scored for Toronto (4-1-0), who next face the high-scoring Capitals in Washington on Tuesday night.
Jeff Petry, Alex Galchenyuk and Jonathan Drouin scored for the Canadiens (1-3-1), whose three goals nearly doubled their struggling attack’s offensive output for the season.
Montreal led 33-21 in shots in regulation time and 34-22 overall.
“For a week now we’ve been talking about not being able to score — well we scored three tonight,” said coach Claude Julien.”It’s a step in the right direction, but we gave up four, so we’re going to keep working.
“At the end of the day there’s a pretty good team here that probably deserves a better record than it has. We’ve just got to work our way out of it. Down the road it’ll make us a better team but we’ve got to turn this around, sooner rather than later.”
The Canadiens struck first as Petry took a drop pass from Drouin and fired a shot through traffic past Anderson at 2:19.
The Leafs replied with two goals in 44 seconds as a faceoff in the Montreal zone went to van Riemsdyk for a weak shot that went in off Petry. Matthews, while on an end-to-end rush, grabbed a weak clearing attempt by Jordie Benn and beat and an off-balance Price with a shot under the crossbar at 8:16.
Galchenyuk elected to shoot on a two-on-one on the power play for his first of the season. It was Montreal’s first goal on a man advantage of the season, ending an 0-for-14 drought.
Drouin got his first goal as a Canadien 11:33 into the second frame when he redirected a diagonal pass from Karl Alzner, but Marleau tied it 1:10 later, lifting the puck just over the line after Price lost sight of it in the crease. The goal was confirmed by video review.
The Canadiens are on the road next week for three games in California.
Toronto has scored at least three goals in their five games this season.
Leafs defenceman Connor Carrick returned after missing two games with an upper body injury.
Canadiens centre Tomas Plekanec missed the morning skate with a flu, but was able to play.