It was a solid start to a three-game trip for the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday.
Auston Matthews scored his 10th goal of the season as the Maple Leafs beat the Edmonton Oilers 4-2 for just their second road win of the season.
“We went out there and it probably wasn’t our prettiest win, but we’re very happy to kick off this road trip with two points,” said Toronto assistant captain Morgan Rielly. “When you look at our team, I think that speed is one thing that stands out, so when you play teams like Edmonton with the amount of speed that they had and the amount of skill that they have, it’s important that we have our legs with us, we’re skating and we’re keeping up with them.”
James van Riemsdyk, Nazem Kadri and Zach Hyman also scored for the Maple Leafs (10-8-4), who have won two straight.
“I think we stuck to the game plan the whole 60 minutes and we didn’t get away from it too much,” Matthews said. “We got pucks in deep and kind of just played heavy down there, grinding them down low. They’re a very good rush team, so we wanted to eliminate that from them. So I think we did a pretty good job of that tonight.”
Connor McDavid and Andrej Sekera responded for the Oilers (12-10-2), who have lost three games in a row.
“It’s frustrating, the highs and lows,” said McDavid, who had his ninth multi-point game of the season. “It’s stupid mistakes that are costing us. We just have to bear down.”
Toronto took a 1-0 lead not long after Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins rang a shot off the post. William Nylander made a great pass on a rush and Matthews directed the puck past Oilers goalie Cam Talbot 4:45 into the first period.
Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen made 12 first-period saves, including a huge glove save to rob Leon Draisaitl in tight.
Toronto added to its lead three minutes into the second period as van Riemsdyk was left completely alone in front of the Oilers net and had three whacks at the puck before getting it past Talbot for his 10th goal of the season.
Edmonton got that goal back just two minutes later as Sekera beat Andersen on a long shot from the point to make it 2-1.
The Maple Leafs responded just over a minute later as Leo Komarov picked a puck off of Oilers defender Matt Benning and got it across to Kadri, who became the third Toronto player to get his 10th goal of the season in the game.
Toronto made it 4-1 with 2:02 left in the second as a puck bounced around in front of the Edmonton net before Hyman swatted it in.
Oilers forward Milan Lucic said his team once again fell into the trap of reacting rather than creating.
“It’s almost like we were kind of waiting for the first thing to happen rather than going out there and making it happen,” he said. “That is still something we are learning as a young group. No matter whom you are playing, you have to get up for the games. It starts here in this dressing room and creating that emotion before the puck.”
Jonas Gustavsson took over for Talbot in the Edmonton net for the third.
The Oilers cut into the lead four minutes into the third as McDavid made the most of a partial breakaway, scoring his 11th goal and league-leading 31st point.
The Maple Leafs continue their road trip in Calgary on Wednesday. Edmonton’s next game is on Thursday in Winnipeg.