By his very high regular-season standards, Auston Matthews was kept relatively quiet by the Tampa Bay Lightning through Game 4 but Toronto's star forward broke out in a fit of purpose and passion in Game 5, driving the Leafs to a famous win.
- And then Auston Matthews. Auston Matthews. Austin Taylor Matthews. That's actually his middle name. I didn't make it up this time. Like, the end-- this game, we wanted more from Matthews. Wanted more ice time, more opportunity. He started the game, that was great. Sheldon Keefe, good for you. Gold star starting Matthews. Played the most-- I believe this is the most he's ever played in this series.
And even the first period, he just didn't look-- didn't look himself. Like, having clear lanes and just passing the puck. And I'm like, why? You're Auston Matthews. Why are you passing? Shoot it. You scored 60 goals. Shoot it. You broke the regular season goal scoring record. Shoot it.
And then he starts digging in more. He starts throwing some hits. He starts finishing his checks. And then off an amazing play by one Mitchell Marner, gets the puck in the neutral zone, takes off, shoots specifically for the rebound. An automatic goal in NHL '22, game reference, and Matthews scores and has the epitome, like the peak of passion. The peak of passion celebrations.
And they hold on. And they win the game. The Toronto Maple Leafs have a 3-2 series lead against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Toronto Maple Leafs have an opportunity to end the series, to end the drought, to end the years of pain. How many? 18. 18 years.