Auston Matthews couldn't help but smile when he spoke to the media following a 2-1 overtime loss to the New York Rangers.
The Toronto Maple Leafs forward returned to game action following offseason wrist surgery and showed little signs of rust. He had 16 shots attempts and eight shots on net in 22:53 of ice time.
"I think I can definitely walk away happy with it," Matthews said of his game. "I had some good chances and some good looks and I think that's all you can ask for."
Matthews was a steady presence in his return to the lineup. He had several quality chances at the net that likely could have gone in had it not been for Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin, who made several difficult saves to limit the damage.
"I thought their goalie did a really good job tonight," Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly said. "But ours did, too."
Shesterkin finished the night with a 40-save victory. Jack Cambell, who played in his fourth consecutive game, made 21 saves.
Matthews led all forwards in all-situation team shot attempts (Corsi-for) when he was on the ice (37). One excellent example of this was in the second period when Matthews got a shot off in the slot. The Rangers goaltender got his pad on it in time. And as Morgan Rielly was on the doorstep for the second-chance shot, he was denied by Shesterkin.
In overtime, Scotiabank Arena was buzzing as the Leafs and Rangers traded scoring opportunities.
Matthews had a chance to end the game with a win with Shesterkin out of his net, but New York's Jacob Trouba managed to stop the shot in the goaltender's place.
The addition of Matthews to the lineup aided in their dominant effort in every category except the goal totals. In the second period the Maple Leafs had an 88.87 percent expected-goals rate per NaturalStatTrick.com at even strength and a 5-0 advantage in high-danger shot attempts.
Matthews also got his first look on the team's power-play, led this season by new assistant coach Spencer Carbery. The team had eight shots on goal over three power-play opportunities.
He also dominated at the faceoff circle, leading the way with 13 winds on 15 attempts. Toronto won 76 percent of the faceoffs against the Rangers.
Matthews didn't score. But he got out of the game healthy and looked like the Matthews of old.
"Sixteen shots attempts, eight on net. If that keeps happening, they're going to go in in bunches," Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said Matthews.
Campbell's solid effort in goal
Jack Campbell recorded his first loss of the season. Despite not being particularly busy for length stretches of the game, he finished the night with 21 saves on 23 shots.
There was a save on New York's Mika Zibanejad's late in regulation time where Campbell got his glove up to help his team salvage a point.
Campbell also used a poke check on two separate occasions to stop a Rangers scoring chance.
Bunting's confidence and on-brand scoring
Michael Bunting continues to deliver as advertised. Signed by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the off-season, the team expected the winger to be a factor at the net. The Scarborough has cited Darcy Tucker as someone he admired for his hard-nosed, get-to-net play he looked to emulate.
Bunting scored the lone goal for Toronto and he did it by creating chaos in front of the net to deflect Rielly's shot.
Bunting is currently tied with William Nylander for the team lead in goals with two.
"Right now I've been lucky for the last two games but it's a long season and so I have to keep that rolling," Bunting said.
John Tavares and Mitch Marner have yet to score through four games. Toronto has eight goals in that stretch.