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 two for Toronto (16-7-6). William Nylander picked up an assist to stretch his point streak to nine games.
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.
Jones suffered his first loss of 2023-24 after going 3-0-0 with a .949 save percentage since being recalled from the minors with Joseph Woll (high ankle sprain) out with an injury.
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.
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.
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.