Auston Matthews opens the “chess game” in beating Wild – The Athletic

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Auston Matthews has a way of breaking through the pleasantries and saying what many are already thinking he did on the second break.

“This feels like a game of chess,” Matthews told TSN’s Mark Masters, politely summarizing how well-executed defensive plays from the Maple Leafs and Minnesota Wild made for a tense game that wasn’t always easy on the eyes.

But the Leafs center could say things like that because it was Matthews who broke the hard-fought affair wide with two goals that ended up making the difference in the Leafs’ 3-1 win over the Wild. Matthews’ 36th goal in 48 games gave him the Rocket Richard Trophy race and helped end a three-game losing streak for the Leafs.

“When you’re playing against teams that have really good structure I think it’s important not to get frustrated and be patient because it’s a long game and just because you don’t get any chances in the first half doesn’t mean that you’re not going to get them later in the game when we’re really wearing down their[defenses],” Matthews said. “I thought we just did a really good job of staying patient.”

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Austin Matthews

As I watched Matthews get back into place in his own zone and use his superb stickwork to clear pucks and help the Leafs get back on offense over and over again, all I could say was:

Well, it would obviously have served the Leafs well if he’d gotten a stick on the puck

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