TORONTO (AP) — Pierre Engvall scored with 2:27 left in regulation, Mitch Marner had a goal to stretch his point streak to a franchise record-tying 18 games, and the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the San Jose Sharks 3-1 on Wednesday night.
Auston Matthews also scored for Toronto, and Ilya Samsonov had 23 saves. The Maple Leafs improved to 8-0-2 over their last 10 games and 11-1-4 over the last 16.
Marner had two chances at an empty net in the closing minutes, inexplicably looking to pass first and then firing another shot wide as the Scotiabank Arena crowd groaned. He got another chance and finally buried his eighth with 1:11 left in the third for his point that tied Darryl Sittler (1978-79) and Eddie Olcyzk (1989-90) for team mark.
Asked if there was a sense of relief, Marner said: “Yeah, I mean, did you see me? I can’t wait to talk to my father. He’s gonna be like, ’What the hell are you doing on that pass for the first one? (Michael Bunting), on the bench, when he looked at me couldn’t believe I tried to pass to him, too.”
The 25-year-old Marner is the 23rd player in NHL history with a point streak of at least 18 games. He has seven goals and 17 assists during the streak.
“The first few tries we’re just like, ‘What are you doing? Like, just put it in the net and let’s go home … let’s get this over with,‘” Matthews said of Marner’s late miscues. “Just really happy that it ended up going in.”
Marner and Matthews, who set the franchise record with 60 goals on the way to winning last season’s Maurice (Rocket) Richard Trophy, shared a special moment on the bench after the empty netter.
“Been through a lot together,” Marner said. “Obviously want to try to achieve great things together as well. I was with him in those big moments when he had them last year. For him to just be that happy and that excited for me meant a lot. … He’s my brother.”
Matt Nieto scored for San Jose and Aaron Dell stopped 29 shots.
Engvall fired home his third goal of the season off a rebound after the Sharks’ Tomas Hertl turned the puck over in the neutral zone, giving the Maple Leafs a 2-1 lead.
“It’s all on me,” Hertl said. “Cost us two points because I made a stupid play.”
Toronto went to its third power play of the night with just over five minutes left in the third period, but Dell made a couple of big saves on a scramble early in the man-advantage before Engvall gave the Leafs the lead.
The Maple Leafs have largely been fine without their injured top-3 defensemen — Morgan Rielly (knee), T.J. Brodie (oblique) and Jake Muzzin (neck.
Toronto took a 1-0 lead at 4:19 of the second when rookie defenseman Mac Hollowell found Matthews with a slick slap pass for him to redirect his 12th.
San Jose responded at 7:26 when Logan Couture shook Hollowell’s check behind the net and fed Nieto in front for his sixth against Samsonov, who returned to the lineup after missing the last 12 games with a sore knee.
The Maple Leafs held a 21-second moment of silence for franchise icon Borje Salming, who was living with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, and died last week at 71.
All proceeds of the team’s reverse retro jerseys sold Wednesday will go to ALS Action Canada.
The sweaters worn by Toronto players against San Jose are set to be auctioned off in Salming’s memory for the charity.
The Hall of Fame defenseman, who wore No. 21 throughout his sparkling career, was at Scotiabank Arena earlier this month as part of two emotional on-ice tributes.
Toronto forward Calle Jarnkrok suffered a groin injury in the second period and did not return.
Sharks: At Ottawa on Saturday night for the third of a four-game trip.
Maple Leafs: At Tampa Bay on Saturday night to open a two-game trip.
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