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Maple Leafs Highlights: One-Hand Holmberg & Amazing Matthews

While the Toronto Maple Leafs lost last night to the New York Islanders, what good things happened in the game?

Although the Toronto Maple Leafs lost to the New York Islanders by a score of 4-3 in overtime, there was some good news from last night’s game. First, the team got a point in the standings. Second, the fans were treated to some amazing plays, specifically from Auston Matthews and Pontus Holmberg.

Related: Martin Jones Shines Again, Maple Leafs Sweep West Coast Road Trip

How Strong Is Pontus Holmberg?

Pontus Holmberg’s impressive play on Auston Matthews’ second goal showed not only his skill but also his strength and situational awareness. As the Maple Leafs initiated a line change, Holmberg, following the play into the corner, disrupted Noah Dobson’s attempt to skate around him. Using just one hand on his stick, Holmberg lifted Dobson’s stick and efficiently shoveled the puck to Matthews, who capitalized on the opportunity.

Matthews’ goal highlighted Holmberg’s exceptional one-handed control and passing ability. In many ways, it was just like a similar play in the last game against the San Jose Sharks (shown above). In that game, he scored by holding off a defender with one hand and flipping the puck over the opposing goalie. Whether intentional or a situational coincidence, Holmberg’s ability to make plays with one hand suggests two things. First, he has the skill; and, second, he has the strength.

The Amazingly Gifted Goal-Scorer Auston Matthews

Auston Matthews continues to dazzle us all on the ice. Last night, he added two more goals to his impressive season in Thursday’s overtime loss. The star forward’s backhander early in the second period and a breakaway goal marked his 70th multiple-goal game, inching him closer to Darryl Sittler’s Maple Leafs record. With 33 goals in 38 games, Matthews remains the NHL’s most prolific goal-scorer since the 2018-19 season, playing a vital role in the Maple Leafs’ offensive prowess.

Since 2018-19, the NHL’s leading goal scorers over those seasons (according to Statsmuse) are:

PlayerTeamGoalsAssists Total Points
Auston Matthews  Toronto Maple Leafs 258      200     458    
Leon Draisaitl   Edmonton Oilers  250      330    580 
Connor McDavid   Edmonton Oilers  232   418    650
David Pastrnak  Boston Bruins  232   239     471  
Alex OvechkinWashington Capitals 223   167    390 

In the Rocket Richard Trophy race this season, Matthews holds a three-goal lead over Florida’s Sam Reinhart. However, he’s played three fewer games. He also has a five-goal advantage over third-place Nikita Kucherov, with four fewer games played. Matthews continues to make history and solidify his legacy with the Maple Leafs.

Pontus Holmberg Auston Matthews Maple Leafs

In the franchise’s records, Matthews tied Ron Ellis for fourth in all-time goals. Having scored 332 goals in 519 games, Matthews’ rapid climb puts him within striking distance of Dave Keon’s third-place position. He needs only 33 goals to catch him. With the possibility of surpassing Keon this season.

Matthews is also only 94 goals away from becoming the all-time leading scorer. Mats Sundin holds the record. Look out. Matthews could achieve this milestone by the 2025-26 season if he maintains his prolific pace.

[As a note, just wanted to thank my sometimes co-writer Stan Smith for help with some of these insights.]

Related: 3 Things to Know About Nylander’s Record-Breaking Maple Leafs Extension

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