PREVIEW: Auston Matthews leads red-hot Toronto Maple Leafs against slumping Vancouver Canucks

Feb 6, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews (34) scores against Vancouver Canucks goalie Braden Holtby (49) in the third period at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Auston Matthews will look to continue his torrid play on Monday night when the Toronto Maple Leafs bid for a three-game sweep of the visiting Vancouver Canucks.

Matthews has scored at least one goal in each of the past seven games in which he has played, including twice in Toronto’s 5-1 romp versus Vancouver on Saturday. The former top overall pick has scored nine goals during that run, and has 10 tallies and three assists during his past nine games overall.

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“He’s been playing great,” fellow forward Mitch Marner said of Matthews, who is the first Maple Leafs player since Hall of Famer Dave Andreychuk (Jan. 6-18, 1994) to score in seven straight games in which he’s played.

“He’s been getting himself in scoring areas. He’s working below the puck in our D-zone especially coming out of our zone mostly with the puck in the middle of the ice and when you give him that much space and time, he’s going to make something happen.”

Marner notched his second straight three-point performance following his 14th career three-assist game on Saturday. Marner has collected three goals and 11 assists during his seven-game point streak.

Toronto, which sports a 6-0-1 mark during that stretch, has outscored Vancouver by a 12-4 margin over the past two contests. The Maple Leafs’ dominance of the Canucks in Toronto is nothing new, as they have won their past nine home encounters with Vancouver dating to Feb. 8, 2014.

“We think we put together two good games here of having some good offensive pieces to our game and really having that connection offensively from our zone through the neutral zone into the offensive zone,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “I think we were really disconnected in that area, especially on the Alberta trip. That’s matching what I think has been not perfect detail defensively, but the fact that we’ve done a much better job on odd-man rushes and generally allowing people to get behind us, comparing that with the offensive start, it’s starting to look like what we expect from our group.”

Wayne Simmonds scored twice to boost his goal total to five in his past six games before exiting midway in the third period after blocking a shot. Keefe said Simmonds will be evaluated, with an update expected on Monday morning.

While Toronto has a 5-1-0 record at home, Vancouver owns a 2-7-0 mark on the road. The Canucks have surrendered 23 goals during their current four-game losing skid.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Canucks, check out #Canucks rumors, rankings, and news here.

“We’re a disconnected group right now and it’s showing. It’s frustrating,” Vancouver goaltender Braden Holtby said. “If we want to be a good team, we’ve got to have everyone pulling the same rope. And that’s what we work towards from now on.”

Brock Boeser scored his team-leading ninth goal of the season late in the third period to extend his point streak to three games (one goal, two assists).

Defenseman Quinn Hughes has five of his club-best 15 assists during his three-game point streak.

–Field Level Media