The Leafs young guns dominated in the team’s final visit to Joe Louis Arena, a game during which Auston Matthews took a stranglehold on the Calder Trophy.
Matthews scored twice and added an assist to help Toronto to hard-fought 5-4 victory. The pair of goals extended his season total to 38, the most ever scored by a U.S. born rookie in NHL history (tied with Neal Broten.) His three-point output gave him 66 points, tying the Leafs rookie mark first set by Peter Ihnacak in 1982-83.
With Toronto trailing 1-0 in the second period, Matthews got the Leafs on the board with a seeing-eye shot on a power play. The goal sparked a flurry of blue-and-white clad freshmen scoring in succession.
Mitch Marner added his 18th tally of the year on a breakaway. Not to be outdone, William Nylander wristed the puck past Jimmy Howard to extend the Leafs’ lead to 3-1.
But subsequent goals by Nick Jensen and Niklas Kronwall knotted the game. The Wings attempted to build off the momentum as time wound down in regulation. However James van Riemsdyk fired the puck home from the edge of the crease to put the Leafs in front with just over two and a half minutes left in the third period.
77 seconds after van Riemsdyk scored, Matthews registered his second of the evening, a goal that held up as the eventual game-winner as the Wings made it close in the final minute.
Frederik Andersen made 34 saves for the win.
The victory gave the Leafs 91 points and a tie with Ottawa for second place in the Atlantic Division.