In the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-5 victory over the Florida Panthers on Monday, John Tavares had one of the best games of his career with a four-goal performance.
The Leafs managed to take care of business on home ice, beating the Florida Panthers 7-5, but it was Tavares’ four-goal game that stole the headlines postgame.
It was the first time since Auston Matthews‘ NHL debut that a Leafs player has scored four goals in a single game. Tavares became just the sixth player in franchise history to reach the feat – Mats Sundin (2006), Steve Sullivan (1999), Yanic Perrault (1999), and Wendel Clark (1996) also had four tallies in a contest.
The 28-year-old has centred the Leafs most productive line with Mitch Marner and Zach Hyman. He sits second in NHL scoring behind only Alex Ovechkin and has 86 points in 76 games. Marner has put together a career year with 25 goals and 90 points over the same span.
Even Hyman has made the most of his time with the two offensive stars. The winger managed to pot his 20th goal of the season in the game against Florida on Monday. It’s the first time in his career that Hyman has accomplished the feat.
Some have voiced their opinions that Tavares is only above 40 goals due to the stellar playmaking ability of his young winger. While there’s no question that Tavares and Marner have helped one another get to their respective point totals this season, it hasn’t just been the former being set up for easy goals by the latter.
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Heading into December, Marner had just six goals and 36 points on the year. Since then, he’s put up 19 goals while playing the majority of his shifts alongside No. 91.
Tavares is getting set to head into his first postseason as a member of the Maple Leafs they will look to get past the trouble they had against the Boston Bruins in last years postseason. Matthews and William Nylander were criticized for their lack of production in the first-round series. With Tavares in the fold, the team will have more weapons to alleviate some of the pressure on others.
But make no mistake, all eyes will be on Tavares to see if he can help the Leafs get past the opening round for the first time since 2004. As for the regular season, he’s passed every test that’s been thrown at him.
It’s definitely not easy playing in the hotbed that is Toronto. But Tavares has earned his keep with a fantastic opening campaign in blue and white.