Auston Matthews is unstoppable.
With yet another highlight reel performance on Monday night, this one coming at the expense of the Buffalo Sabres, Matthews has virtually shattered the Leafs’ long-standing rookie records at will.
Firing his 39th goal of the season, Matthews collected the 67th point of his freshman campaign, bettering the previous mark set by Peter Ihnacak in 1982-83.
The tally came within a barrage of three Toronto goals in 43 seconds early in the first period against shellshocked Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner, a flurry that chased the netminder from the game on just five shots.
Leo Komarov opened the scoring with a tap-in after converting a pass from Nazem Kadri, the beneficiary of a turnover by defenceman Jake McCabe.
Less than a half minute later, Matthews roofed the puck past Lehner on a zone entry with linemate William Nylander, who earned the first assist on the play.
For Nylander, the game was particularly special as he faced his younger brother Alex for the first time as an NHL opponent.
The back-breaking goal came after an offensive zone faceoff, just eight seconds later. Tyler Bozak won the draw and slid the puck to James van Riemsdyk on a set play. In an instant, van Riemsdyk stunned Lehner with a wrist shot, sending half of the Key Bank Centre into stunned silence; the hometown fans, that is. Of course, the other half consisted of Leafs fans who made the trek across the Peace Bridge for the game.
Toronto dominated the opening period on the shot counter, by an 18-2 margin, carrying a 3-0 lead after twenty minutes.
The game was seemingly out of reach, although Ryan O’Reilly did spark some life into the Sabres with a shorthanded goal in the second frame, speeding down the right side and taking advantage of a confused Jake Gardiner on the backcheck.
Nazem Kadri regained the three-goal cushion for his team in the third period.
Jack Eichel, with a nifty breakaway marker, closed out the scoring in the final minute.
Matthews extended his goal scoring streak to five games, and both Nylander and Mitch Marner collected their 60th points of the year.
The win closed out Toronto’s road schedule for the regular season (19-14-8). The team returns to Air Canada Centre to finish the regular season with a four-game homestand beginning Tuesday night against Washington.