PREVIEW: Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs look to douse Calgary Flames

Feb 20, 2021; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (34) celebrates his goal against Montreal Canadiens with teammates during the second period at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

After facing Connor McDavid for two games, the Calgary Flames must deal with another prolific scorer in Auston Matthews when they visit the Toronto Maple Leafs for two games starting Monday night.

McDavid scored three goals and added two assists Saturday night when the Edmonton Oilers defeated the visiting Flames 7-1. It was Calgary’s third straight loss.

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Matthews scored two goals and had two assists Saturday when the Maple Leafs defeated the host Montreal Canadiens 5-3.

The Flames held McDavid off the scoresheet in their 2-1 loss to the Oilers on Friday night in Calgary.

“We played him as close to perfect as you can last game, (Friday) night, so you know a player like that is going to make sure he does everything in his power not to let that happen two nights in a row,” Flames left winger Matthew Tkachuk said. “I think as a group of 20 we probably should have been probably just harder on him, I don’t even know. … He had a great game.”

The Flames are 8-9-1 and Tkachuk said he is taking it on himself to improve the team’s fortunes.

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“For me, personally, I have to get going,” Tkachuk said. “All the pressure should be on me to perform here. It should be on nobody else. I haven’t been at my best and it’s time for me to get going and help us get some wins.”

Tkachuk played well and had an assist on Calgary’s goal, but it was not nearly enough.

“Let’s call a spade a spade here,” Tkachuk said after the game. “That was probably one of the toughest moments since I’ve been here. Just the way that it went, the way things are going. … Things snowballed. They got out of hand pretty quickly. I guess my one thought is I feel terrible for our goalies, really. I mean, they come in and they battle every practice, every game. If it wasn’t for them right now, who knows where we’d be in the standings. We’d be pretty close to the bottom.”

The Maple Leafs have won three in a row and swept two games in Calgary from Jan. 24-26, with Matthews scoring a goal in each game.

Matthews has registered at least one point in each of his past 16 games.

Officially, by NHL rules, it is a 13-game streak (16 goals, eight assists) because he missed a game on Jan. 22 against Edmonton. He had points in three consecutive games before that. Matthews has at least one point in every game he’s played except on Jan. 15 against the Ottawa Senators.

His four-point second period Saturday moved Matthews past Syl Apps for most points through 300 games with Toronto. Apps had 313 and Matthews has 314 (176 goals, 138 assists).

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“I don’t try to think about it too much, to be honest with you,” Matthews said. “The recipe for success has just been us competing and working hard, and working to get that puck back. We’ve just been focused on that. And we’re winning games right now, which is the most important thing.”

Only Charlie Conacher (191) and Rick Vaive (186) had more goals in their first 300 games as Maple Leafs than Matthews.

“Just an elite player doing elite things,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “He and Mitch (Marner) obviously have got a lot of great things going on.”

–Field Level Media