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Auston Matthews adds to goals lead as Toronto Maple Leafs top Canucks

Apr 29, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Joe Thornton (97) and Vancouver Canucks defenseman Travis Hamonic (27) battle for position in the first period at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Auston Matthews scored his league-leading 36th goal of the season and the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the visiting Vancouver Canucks 4-1 on Thursday night.

William Nylander, Pierre Engvall and Mitchell Marner (empty net) also scored for the Maple Leafs (32-13-5, 69 points) in the opener of a two-game set.

Marner added an assist for the Maple Leafs, who clinched a playoff spot by defeating the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 on Wednesday and have won four games in a row.

J.T. Miller scored for the Canucks (19-22-3, 41 points), who have lost three in a row. They fell 6-3 to the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday.

David Rittich made 15 saves for Toronto, and Canucks goaltender Braden Holtby stopped 20 shots.

Nylander scored his 16th goal of the season at 15:29 of the first period. He took a wrist shot from the bottom of the left circle after receiving a pass from Alex Galchenyuk.

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Toronto had a 7-2 advantage in shots on goal in the first period.

Matthews scored from the right circle 51 seconds into the second period. Marner set him up with a pass to earn his 44th assist of the season.

Toronto led 3-0 thanks to Engvall’s fourth goal of the season. He scored from the right circle at 2:57 of the second period. Rasmus Sandin made the pass to set it up.

Miller scored for Vancouver on a power play at 15:36 of the second from a sharp angle in the left circle. His 11th goal of the season came with nine seconds remaining in Timothy Liljegren’s hooking penalty.

Toronto led 18-11 in shots on goal after two periods.

Marner scored his 18th goal of the season into an empty goal at 19:05 of the third period.

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Toronto’s Wayne Simmonds and Vancouver’s Alexander Edler were given fighting majors at 1:54 of the first period. Edler had served a two-game suspension for his hit on Zach Hyman on April 18. Hyman has not played since because of a sprained knee.

With a playoff spot clinched, the Maple Leafs did not have Jake Muzzin, Morgan Rielly, Nick Foligno and Jack Campbell in the lineup.

The teams play again on Saturday night.

–Field Level Media