Published October 12, 2023

Matthews records hat trick, Marner scores SO winner in Leafs’ wild victory over Habs

Matthews records hat trick, Marner scores SO winner in Leafs’ wild victory over Habs

Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press

Sheldon Keefe stepped to the podium and was asked what he took away from his team’s first game of the season.

"Two points," replied the Maple Leafs head coach. "That’s about it."

On an opening night where Toronto fumbled the puck, tripped over its own feet and faced two daunting deficits, Keefe was happy with the result.

And not much else.

Mitch Marner scored the only goal of the shootout after Auston Matthews registered the eighth hat trick of his career Wednesday as the Leafs fought back from 2−0 and 5−3 holes to defeat the Montreal Canadiens 6−5 in a wild opener for both teams.

After the Leafs and Canadiens traded chances in the 3−on−3 extra period that included a Montreal power play, Marner moved in on Jake Allen and fired upstairs on Toronto’s third attempt before Ilya Samsonov stopped Kirby Dach at the other end to seal it.

"The game presented almost everything that you can think of," Keefe said. "It’s all over the place, which you don’t love to see."

William Nylander, with a goal and an assist, and Noah Gregor also scored in regulation for Toronto. Samsonov made 19 saves through 65 minutes.

"No quit in our group — proud of that," Marner said.

"Bit of a roller−coaster," added Matthews, who scored the 300th, 301st and 302nd goals of his career. "Nice to get the win, (but) there’s a lot of things that we can definitely clean up."

John Tavares had three assists, while John Klingberg, in his first game with the Leafs, chipped in with two.

Alex Newhook, with two goals in his Canadiens debut, Cole Caufield, Jake Evans and Jesse Ylonen replied for Montreal. Allen stopped 37 shots.

"There’s emotional swings," said Dach, who had two assists. "We’ve got to find ways to keep on moving forward and keeping rolling the way we were rolling.

"We took our foot off the gas pedal."

Trailing 3−2 early in the third period after conceding that two−goal edge, the Canadiens got even at 4:25 on a power play when Caufield’s shot hit the stick of defenceman T.J. Brodie.

Montreal went back in front just 1:22 later when Newhook, acquired from the Colorado Avalanche in June, tipped a point shot past Samsonov.

Ylonen then made it 5−3 at 11:55 when he jumped on a turnover and roofed a backhand.

"Not a fun game for goalies," Samsonov deadpanned. "Especially for Toronto goalies."

But Matthews scored his second of the night with 4:32 left in regulation, and Samsonov on the bench for an extra attacker. He beat Allen from a tough angle before completing the hat trick with 1:07 remaining on the clock to send Scotiabank Arena into a frenzy.

"That’s what you need from your best people at times when it’s looking dire," Keefe said. "The game’s kind of slipping away … I would like it to start that way and get out in front of it.

"But I liked the way that those guys responded."

Leading 2−0 early in the second, the Canadiens appeared to go ahead by three on a power play, but Caufield’s effort was wiped off the scoreboard when Keefe correctly challenged for offside.

That completely flipped the script — at least momentarily.

The Leafs cut the deficit in half at 7:41 when Gregor, who earned a job in training camp on a professional tryout, snapped a shot past Allen.

Toronto, which advanced in the playoffs for the first time in nearly two decades last spring, tied it on a power play at 14:51 when Matthews became the fifth player in franchise history with 300 goals.

Nylander hit the post before that equalizer, but found the scoresheet with 44.5 seconds left in the period when he blasted a one−timer to give the Leafs their first lead, and set the stage for a wild third.

Toronto centre Fraser Minten made his NHL debut on the third line between fellow rookie Matthew Knies, who played 10 regular−season and playoff games last spring, and Calle Jarnkrok.

The Leafs, who lost to the rebuilding Canadiens in last season’s curtain−raiser, are hoping for a better start in 2023−24 after combining to go 8−8−3 in October the last two campaigns as they look to challenge for top spot in both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference.

Expected to once again be in tough in an ultra−competitive division, Montreal went ahead 1−0 at 3:01 of the first when Brodie fell at the offensive blue line and Evans raced in alone on a breakaway.

Montreal made it 2−0 just 70 seconds into the second when Newhook finished off a pretty 3−on−2 for his first with Montreal in the first of many momentum swings.

"These things are always easy to process when you get the two points," Keefe said.

"But there’s a lot of things we’ve got to do better than we did tonight."


The son of former Toronto enforcer and fan favourite Tie Domi said before the game he hopes to chart his own path with the Leafs.

"My dad had a great career here," Max Domi said. "Gave everything he had to this city."

With the weekend trade of Sam Lafferty to the Vancouver Canucks, his dad’s old No. 28 became available.

"Absolutely not," Domi replied when asked if he was switching from No. 11. "That’s my old man’s number."


Allen, 33, got the start ahead of Sam Montembeault, 26, in Montreal’s crease on opening night.

"Sam knows I believe in him," Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis said a few hours before puck drop. "He’s going to be a big part of this team."


Toronto: Hosts the Minnesota Wild on Saturday.

Montreal: Hosts the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday.

banner image: The Canadian Press

What do you think of this article?

Have a breaking story?

Share it with us!
Share Your Story

What Barrie's talking about!

From breaking news to the best slice of pizza in town! Get everything Barrie’s talking about delivered right to your inbox every day. Don’t worry, we won’t spam you. We promise :)
Subscription Form
Consent Info

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Central Ontario Broadcasting, 431 Huronia Rd, Barrie, Ontario, CA, You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Related Stories