Matthews and Eichel go snipe-for-snipe in battle of young American stars

Yahoo Canada Sports


Jack Eichel and Auston Matthews went off on Tuesday. (Getty)
Jack Eichel and Auston Matthews went off on Tuesday. (Getty)

So, Auston Matthews is back and his absolutely asinine toe-drag wrister hasn’t skipped a beat.

That Jack Eichel guy? Yeah, he’s pretty good too.

The pair of young American stars put on a show during Tuesday’s clash in Buffalo with each putting up two goals and Matthews adding an assist — and the overtime winner — to best his USA Hockey counterpart in their first head-to-head showdown of the season.

After missing more than a month with a shoulder injury, the Maple Leafs centre has been on a tear with five goals in three contests since his return to Toronto’s lineup last Wednesday.

And his nasty overtime winner against the Sabres Tuesday night was just classic Auston.

With time winding down in a thrilling 3-on-3 overtime and the game knotted at threes, Matthews picked up a Kasperi Kapanen drop pass before working his way towards the middle of the ice and unleashing his patented, devilish toe-drag and ripping one under the bar on Sabres netminder Linus Ullmark to give Toronto its fifth-straight win.

It was Matthews second highlight-reel snipe of the night, too, as he gloved one down before converting a wraparound in the second period to open the scoring.

Eichel buried both the Sabres’ third-period goals — tying the game just under three minutes in and giving Buffalo the lead with seven minutes left in the frame.

Not much Freddie Andersen could do on this straight-up cannon from the Sabres captain.

With the dramatic win, the Maple Leafs matched a franchise record for fewest games needed to reach 20 wins. Toronto now sits one point behind the Lightning for first in the NHL standings, with an 11-3 record away from Scotiabank Arena.

Matthews, meanwhile, is the only qualified forward in the NHL clipping at a goal-per-game pace.

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