On a night when Frederik Andersen wasn’t at his best, the Leafs still managed to stage a 4-3 come-from-behind shootout win versus the New York Islanders on Thursday.
However, the mood of the victory was hushed as Auston Matthews left the game late in regulation with a shoulder injury.
Toronto fell behind 2-0 before Mitch Marner and Morgan Rielly found the net for the Leafs to even the score. The Islanders went ahead at 3:07 of the third period after Jordan Eberle, from a bad angle, banked the puck into the goal off defenceman Nikita Zaitsev.
It appeared that Eberle’s goal would hold up as the game-winner as the Islanders continued to apply pressure in the Leafs zone for much of the period. But the Leafs got a lucky bounce of their own when Matthews deflected a shot by Jake Gardiner that ricoheted off Nick Leddy and behind a helpless Jaroslav Halak for the equalizer.
Matthews’s injury occurred with just over a minute left in regulation after getting crushed between opponents Adam Pelech and Ryan Clutterbuck.
Tyler Bozak was the only player to score in the ensuing shootout. The Leafs have now won eight consecutive games on home ice.
“We didn’t score in it last year and it cost you. We’ve scored in it this year,” coach Mike Babcock said of his team’s shootout success. “It makes your goalie feel better too, obviously. You need the points and yet as we know, we’re coming to a season that it doesn’t matter. You’ve got to outplay the other team and do it right.
I think the 3-on-3 overtime and the shootout are fun for the fans, but in the season we want to play in, they don’t have that.”