TORONTO — Mitch Marner hit yet another milestone on Saturday.
The Markham, Ont., native had a goal and an assist to hit the 500-point mark in the Toronto Maple Leafs' 4-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Marner set the franchise record with a 23-game point streak earlier in the season.
The achievement came in Marner's 467th career game, a mere four days after Auston Matthews accomplished the feat. The two are first and second in franchise history as the fastest players to do it, with Matthews needing 445.
"It's just a cool moment, for sure," Marner said. "You definitely don't try and really think about setting milestones or doing milestones and trying not (to) be selfish about yourself.
"Growing up here in the city and dreaming to play for this team and doing it all with this team, it's been special, it's been a lot of fun but there's bigger goals ahead. It's cool, enjoying the moment, but time to refresh and think about Philly now."
John Tavares, with two goals, and Pontus Holmberg also scored for Toronto (24-9-7), which snapped a two-game skid with its first win of 2023 to the delight of the 19,101 in attendance at Scotiabank Arena.
Ilya Samsonov made 22 saves in a bounceback effort after surrendering five goals in regulation and overtime in the Leafs' 6-5 shootout loss to St. Louis on Tuesday.
"I think it's noteworthy just the job Sammy did tonight," said Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe. "We've been needing our whole team to play better, but our goalies to play better as well and it hasn't gone as well for them.
"But Sammy, the last three games in particular, he and (goaltending coach) Curtis Sanford have put in some real work. Our team took yesterday off, Sammy and Curtis did not take yesterday off. I thought right from the morning, right through to the game tonight, Sammy's focus was really, really solid. He looked destined to have a great night here tonight and I thought he did."
Jake Walman had the lone goal for the Red Wings (16-15-7), who suffered their third straight loss.
Magnus Hellberg stopped 25-of-28 shots he faced.
"Unfortunately, a fairly similar theme. Five-on-five play, good," said Detroit head coach Derek Lalonde. "Unfortunately, we lost the special teams battle tonight.
"Pretty good first period, we didn't give up much. Didn't really hate our second, looks like we lost a little bit of gas. … Come out of that period down 2-1, and then we didn't have enough for a push in the third."
Tavares capped a run of four unanswered goals for Toronto with an empty-net marker at 18:21 of the final frame.
Holmberg gave the Leafs a two-goal advantage when he tipped in a Morgan Rielly point shot 6:19 into the third period.
Tavares scored the go-ahead goal 6:37 into the second when Calle Jarnkrok found him streaking down the middle of Detroit's zone.
"We just talked about upping our pace, really and just some of the execution coming out of our own end," Tavares said of the team's turnaround after a slow start.
"I think we were just much quicker coming out of our own end, moving the puck a little faster and that allowed our feet to get moving, get on the forecheck and tilt the ice a little bit."
Marner knotted the contest on the power play just 24 seconds into the middle frame. He fired a sharp-angled shot on a rebound from a Matthews point shot that went wide and off the boards.
Matthews was credited with an assist, allowing both players to extend their point streaks to four games.
Olli Maatta sent a laser of a pass from the end boards to spring Walman on a breakaway and he opened the scoring 11:57 into the first.
Brennan Othmann, Ethan Del Mastro, Owen Beck, Shane Wright and Zack Ostapchuk of Canada's gold-medal winning world junior team were given a standing ovation when shown on the video board just past the midway mark of the first period.
Saturday's contest was Toronto's first Indigenous Celebration game. Players wore warm-up jerseys designed by Indigenous artist Tyler Rushnell. The jerseys will be up for auction on Real Sports Auction with all of the proceeds to be donated to the Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre. There were also performances from the Toronto Council Fire Native All Nations Juniors drum group as Leafs players were introduced and a hoop dance routine during the second intermission.
The Maple Leafs head to Philadelphia to play the Flyers on Sunday for the second of back-to-back games. It will be one of just four road games for Toronto in January.
Detroit will have two days off before taking on the Winnipeg Jets at home on Tuesday. It will be the start of a three-game homestand for the Red Wings.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 7, 2023.
Abdulhamid Ibrahim, The Canadian Press