By Peter Bojarinov
TORONTO, Ont. Auston Matthews had his fourth career hat-trick as the Toronto Maple Leafs demolished the Colorado Avalanche 8-3 at Scotiabank Arena Wednesday night.
John Tavares had a goal and two assists, and William Nylander a goal and a single assist for Toronto (17-6-1), while Jason Spezza, Travis Dermott, Pierre Engvall chipped in with a goal each, Nazem Kadri had two tallies, and Samuel Girard, replied for Colorado (11-7-1).
Jack Campbell made 26 saves for the Maple Leafs, while Jonas Johansson turned away 33 for the Avalanche.
The clean shaven offensive leader Matthews led the way, with the team firing shot after shot, possessing the puck, dangling around a depleted Avalanche team.
“The Avalanche are under siege here early” shouted Sportsnet commentator Chris Cuthbert during the preliminary stage.
Before the game Colorado announced “Darcy Kuemper (upper body) will not dress tonight. Johansson will get the start. Justus Annunen had been recalled from the Colorado Eagles and will joined the team tonight.
The Avalanche had an emergency goalie to serve as backup to Johansson for the game.”
On the ice the Avalanche played without confidence, who missed their starting veteran goaltender Kuemper to back them up.
Nylander broke the ice early with a goal on a drive of the rush(4:31), and vintage Jason Spezza follow suit depositing a loose puck in the crease(7:57).
Matthews completed the first period Maple Leafs’ onslaught spinning for his 11th goal of the season (14:24).
Giradi showed signs of life for the Avalanche with a goal(19:59) to complete the period for the mile high club.
Colorado started to swing the momentum in the second, Kadri, the possible unrestricted free agent after this season(11:52). But Travis Dermott (12:44) and John Tavares (16:24) put a stop to that with two for the buds right after.
Early in the third period Matthews found his stride and deposited his second goal of the game(0:44), a backhander passed a sprawled out Johansson. Matthews the talented sniper continued to fire away with reckless abandon for this third of the night(8:41), who now leads the club with his 13th of the season.
Engvall jumped in on the thumping with a quick wrister(10:08), beating a tired Johanasson. The inexperienced backup was never replaced by the EBUG as Annunen arrived later to the game.
Nazem Kadri put up his second of the night on the power play (16:36) to continue his hot streak 13 points in his past 13 games.
NOTES: Michael Bunting had a career high three point night, dishing out three assists. It was Nazem Kadri’s first return to Scotiabank Arena since being traded on Dec. 4, 2019.. Kadri had his 200th career goal, and played 561 games for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Mitchell Marner had two points.