It took nearly six full hockey games before the Toronto Maple Leafs led the Boston Bruins in 2023-24. But after a scintillating game-winning goal from Auston Matthews in the third period of Game 2 on Monday night, the Leafs have flipped the script and evened the best-of-7 series at a game apiece after a thrilling 3-2 victory at TD Garden.

Matthews needed to step up with No. 2 scorer William Nylander out of the lineup again, and he did in a big way. After recording assists on both of Toronto's first two goals — one in the first and one in the second — No. 34 deftly brought down a slick aerial pass from linemate Max Domi with the score tied 2-2 late in the final frame.

The league's most prolific goal scorer broke in alone and scored Toronto's biggest goal of the season, beating Linus Ullmark with a slick forehand roof job.

“Great pass to find Auston in the manner that he did,” Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said of Domi's quarterback-esque play afterwards, according to the Associated Press' Jimmy Golen. “That’s big-time stuff the way those guys connected.”

It was a phenomenal pass, a phenomenal finish, and a goal that the Buds badly needed to get momentum back on their side in the game and the series.

“It’s happening so fast, you don’t really have time to think,” Matthews said of his first goal of the opening round — and 70th overall on the season. “It’s honestly just instincts, and trying to make the right play.”

After getting dominated by Boston all year long, Toronto is now not only back in the series, but with home-ice advantage on their side heading back to Scotiabank Arena. It was just what the Leafs needed, especially after they trailed again for long stretches in Game 2.

“We were able to even things up, but obviously there’s a long way to go here,” said captain John Tavares, who scored a powerplay goal of his own in Toronto's first win over Boston this year. “You know they’re going to want to respond as well, so we’ve got to keep elevating.”

Of course, the goal was also met with raucous reactions across X on Monday night.

Auston Matthews, Leafs back in series in a big way

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (34) celebrates with his teammates after scoring a goal against the Boston Bruins during the third period in game two of the first round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden.
Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Matthews was the best player on the ice by a wide margin on Monday night, scoring the winner but also adding assists on both of Toronto's other goals. With Nylander out, the Rocket Richard winner stepped up and was a true difference-maker on Monday.

The series now shifts north to Canada, where the Leafs will rightly have a ton of confidence after beating the Bruins for the first time in six tries in 2023-24. Despite losing all four regular-season tilts, and dropping Game 1 in hideous fashion, none of that matters anymore.

The series is knotted at one, Matthews looks as dialled in as he has for any Leafs playoff run, and there's a great chance Nylander will return to the lineup on Wednesday night. What was once looking like a potentially short series has been completely turned on its head, and that's because of the heroics of Auston Matthews.

The American superstar will lead his club with confidence into Game 3, set for just past 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday night in Toronto.