TORONTO (AP) Mika Zibanejad scored twice and Igor Shesterkin made 31 saves as the New York Rangers defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 on Tuesday night.

Braden Schneider, Alexis Lafreniere and Artemi Panarin also scored for New York (22-7-1), which owns the best record in the Eastern Conference. Former Leafs defenseman Erik Gustafsson and Blake Wheeler both had three assists.

The red-hot Auston Matthews replied with both goals to give him an NHL-best 25 for Toronto (16-7-6) after sitting out Saturday with the flu. William Nylander picked up an assist to stretch his point streak to nine games.

“Good game in a lot of different areas,” Matthews said. “Three goals, three fluky bounces, but sometimes that’s the way it goes.”

Martin Jones stopped 31 shots for the Leafs, who saw a nine-game point streak (6-0-3) that included a 7-3 victory over the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 12 come to an end.

“Really hard-fought game,” Schneider said. “They make you pay if you’re not executing.”

Shesterkin allowed six goals on 29 shots in that ugly defeat, but was solid on this night.

“Better start,” Rangers coach Peter Laviolette said. “They pressed the whole night.”

Jones suffered his first loss of 2023-24 after going 3-0-0 with a .949 save percentage since being recalled from the minors.

“A couple of tough bounces,” he said. “But for me, the (Schneider) goal is the disappointing one. I’d like to play that a little different in that time in the game.

“Who knows what could have happened after that?”

Down 2-1 through 40 minutes, Matthews got Toronto back even 1:16 into the third period when he pinged his second goal of the night, 25th of the season, and 11th in the center’s last seven games upstairs.

“Didn’t miss a beat,” Keefe said. “When he’s getting the puck around the slot, he’s got lots of confidence and he’s finding holes.”

But Schneider burst into the offensive zone and fired through the pads on Jones for his second at 8:08 to snap a 22-game drought.

“I just thought he was gonna pull it to the middle,” Jones said of the Rangers defenseman. “I went for a little poke check. Credit to him, he had his head up.”

Leafs captain John Tavares was honored with an on-ice ceremony alongside his family before the opening faceoff for reaching 1,000 career points last week. The 33-year-old is the 98th player in NHL history to reach the milestone. Leafs legend Darryl Sittler, who had 1,121 career points, presented Tavares with a golden stick for the achievement.


Rangers: Host Edmonton on Friday night to open a three-game homestand.

Maple Leafs: At Buffalo on Thursday night to open a two-game trip.



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