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NHL - US Sports: Leafs' Bunting thriving in top-line role

Forward Michael Bunting says he is enjoying playing alongside superstars Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner on the Toronto Maple Leafs' top-line.

The Leafs, 19/2 to win the Stanley Cup in 2021/22, have won two in a row, 5-4 against the Columbus Blue Jackets and most recently 6-5 versus the Seattle Kraken on Tuesday.

Top-line firing

In each game, the line of Bunting, Matthews and Marner has led the Leafs offensively, collectively registering six points in each fixture.

Against the Blue Jackets, 26-year-old Bunting scored the game-winning-goal which was his 20th of the season and in the win over the Kraken he collected an assist for his 46th point. He leads all rookies in both categories.

Prior to his opportunity with the Leafs, Bunting had been limited to just 26 games in the NHL with Arizona Coyotes and Anaheim Ducks and thus qualifies as a rookie despite his older than usual age.

The 6'0" winger has spent the majority of his career in NHL farm-teams, notably icing several seasons for the Tucson Roadrunners, who are affiliated to the Coyotes.

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Impressive stats up top

He has, though, taken his chance to play a crucial role alongside the Leafs' star men, and has himself registered points in six straight games (two goals, eight assists).

24-year-old Matthews hit the 40-goal mark versus the Blue Jackets before hitting a hat-trick against the Kraken to take his NHL leading total to 43.

Mitchell Marner, also 24, sits second on the Leafs for goals (23) and points (62) and the trio have helped the Leafs to a 37-16-4 record which ranks third in the Atlantic Division.

Bunting said to the media: "I think our line's meshed pretty well. We've built some good chemistry and I've had a little bit of success offensively, and I'm just trying to keep rolling with them."

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