Sports Hockey

Toronto Maple Leafs lose 4-2 to Colorado Avalanche

By Terry Koshan, Postmedia Network

Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock yells from the bench during the final seconds of third period NHL hockey action against the Colorado Avalanche in Toronto on Monday, January 22, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS

Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock yells from the bench during the final seconds of third period NHL hockey action against the Colorado Avalanche in Toronto on Monday, January 22, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS

More of that, please, Auston Matthews.

Keep showing that emotion.

The hockey gods know you have more than enough talent to let it get in the way of your daily business.

The Maple Leafs’ best player proved on Monday night at the Air Canada Centre that it’s not rude to point when you have to score two goals to get credit for one.

Matthews’ goal in the second period against the Colorado Avalanche came after he had one disallowed thanks to a goaltender interference call that was, at best, questionable.

At 9:17, Matthews buried a large William Nylander rebound off the pad of Avalanche goaltender Jonathan Bernier, giving the Leafs a 2-1 lead.

In his celebration, Matthews pointed at the Colorado net, signalling a goal.

This happened after Matthews appeared to score at 7:36 during a scramble at the top of the crease. Avalanche coach Jared Bednar challenged, calling for Matthews interference on Bernier. After a lengthy review by referees Gord Dwyer and Jake Brenk, the goal was negated, bringing a heated reaction from Leafs coach Mike Babcock.

Matthews sat on the bench, shaking his head in disbelief. The interference certainly was not blatant.

Deflation, though? No. Matthews went out and scored, playing as though the disappointment didn’t happen.

The Leafs, however, couldn’t turn the goal into a rallying cry before a crowd of 18,971.

The Avalanche pushed their NHL-high winning streak to 10 games, getting the winning goal off the stick of Blake Comeau for a 4-2 victory.

Captain Gabriel Landeskog scored into an empty Leafs net with 53.7 seconds remaining.

Comeau scored at 12:17 of the third period, re-directing the puck past Frederik Andersen as Matthews couldn’t check the veteran Avalanche forward in time.

The Leafs, who play in Chicago on Wednesday and Dallas on Thursday before the NHL all-star break, fell to 6-8-4 in their past 18 games. The sub-.500 record comes after the Leafs won 20 of their initial 31 games.

The Leafs’ lead following Matthews’ 21st goal of the season didn’t last long.

Nail Yakupov converted a pass from Alexander Kerfoot past Andersen at 10:51 of the second. The span between the Matthews and Yakupov goals — one minute 34 seconds — marked the lone time the Avalanche has trailed during their winning streak.

Patrick Marleau, with his first goal in nine games, scored Toronto’s first goal at 19 seconds of the second period, one-timing a pass from Leo Komarov over the glove of Bernier. The fans then rode Bernier hard immediately afterward and sarcastically cheered after his next routine save.

The goal was the 16th of the season for Marleau and the 524th of his NHL career, tying him with Bryan Trottier for 35th in league history.

Colorado’s first goal came early, at 2:19 when Gabriel Bourque slammed a Tyson Jost rebound between the legs of Andersen.

The Avs were the hungrier team in the first 20 minutes, winning most of the loose-puck battles and forechecking with zeal.

Matthews had a great scoring chance, waiting out Bernier but not quite long enough to get the puck past the goaltender.

Travis Dermott nearly scored his first NHL goal on a great feed from Nylander, his shot from the slot getting through only to hit the top of the net and drop on the other side.

Once the Leafs got past the first period, they were able to match pace with the Avalanche.

The Matthews line created several great scoring chances — Nylander was all over the ice — and the Nazem Kadri trio also contributed.

Bernier was sharp, winning in his first game in the ACC as a member of the opposition. And it was Bernier’s ninth win in a row.

As we said, the emotion demonstrated by Matthews was good to see. It’s needed in a sport that often prides itself on being buttoned down.

tkoshan@postmedia.com

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