Preview: Senators at Maple Leafs
Auston Matthews has been paying dividends for the Toronto Maple Leafs since the club selected the star forward with the top overall pick of the 2016 NHL Draft. With the ink barely dry on his new five-year, $58.17 million contract extension, the 21-year-old Matthews looks to cash in on the ice Wednesday when the Maple Leafs host the provincial-rival Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Arena.
"Everything came together, and for me I guess you could always wait but I had no problem signing during the season," Matthews told reporters. "Obviously I'm very proud to be a Maple Leaf today and for the foreseeable future." The three-time All-Star has collected 23 goals and 23 assists this season, with one of each coming in Toronto's 5-3 setback to Ottawa on Oct. 6. While the high-octane Maple Leafs are bidding to complete a perfect three-game homestand and are 3-0-1 in their last four overall, the league-worst Senators saw their losing skid extend to four contests following Saturday's 2-0 shutout versus Detroit. Craig Anderson will attempt to snap a four-start skid when he faces Toronto, against which he turned aside 34 shots in the first meeting to improve to 16-7-3 in 28 career encounters versus the club.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, Sportsnet, Sportsnet 360, TVA
ABOUT THE SENATORS (19-28-5): Although Ottawa captured the first contest in the Battle of Ontario, the standings tell a vastly different story as the struggling Senators are dealing with life as a virtual afterthought this season. "It's been a frustrating year," forward Zack Smith told the Ottawa Sun. "They talked about rebuilding right from the start, but we wanted to be in the mix at this time of the year, and we're quite a ways out. It's tough." The 30-year-old Smith set up two goals in the first meeting with the Maple Leafs while defenseman Thomas Chabot (team co-leading 29 assists) scored two goals and set up another.
ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS (32-17-3): With Matthews under wraps, Toronto now turns its attention toward working out a contract extension with forward Mitch Marner as the 21-year-old Ontario native can become a restricted free agent on July 1. Marner joined Matthews and defenseman Morgan Rielly in scoring and setting up a goal versus the Senators and leads the team with 43 assists and 63 points. John Tavares, who signed a seven-year contract with an annual average value of $11 million on July 1, boosted his club-best goal total to 31 in Monday's 6-1 romp over Anaheim - with a league-best eight serving as the first tally of a game.
1. Toronto D Jake Muzzin, who was acquired from Los Angeles last week, recorded his sixth career three-point performance with a goal and two assists versus the Ducks.
2. Senators RW Mark Stone scored one of his team-leading 22 goals versus the Maple Leafs, although he has just two tallies in his last 10 games overall.
3. Toronto LW Andreas Johnsson has collected 20 (10 goals, 10 assists) of his 26 points on home ice this season.
PREDICTION: Maple Leafs 6, Senators 2