TORONTO – Erik Kallgren made 35 saves as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 on Thursday for the rookie goaltender’s second straight victory.
Mitch Marner, Ilya Mikheyev and Ondrej Kase scored for Toronto (39-17-5), which was again minus NHL goal leader Auston Matthews as he served the second of a two-game suspension.
Ethan Bear and Vincent Trocheck replied for Carolina (41-14-5). Frederik Andersen stopped 18 shots.
Called up from the minors last week with Leafs No. 1 netminder Jack Campbell out because of a rib injury, Kallgren got his second NHL start in place of the scuffling Petr Mrazek after shutting out the Dallas Stars 4-0 on Tuesday.
All the 25-year-old Swede’s done in his short time on the job is steady a Toronto crease that had been a major issue since Jan. 1 as the Leafs put in their second consecutive solid defensive effort.
Kallgren’s only goal against in his three appearances before Bear scored in Thursday’s third period was in relief of Mrazek in Toronto’s 5-4 overtime loss to the Arizona Coyotes on March 10 with the teams playing 3 on 3.
Toronto, which lost 4-1 on the road to Carolina in October before beating the Hurricanes 4-3 at home last month, was under intense pressure early Tuesday as the visitors registered 11 of the game’s first 12 shots, but Kallgren was once again there at every turn, including a nice stop off Trocheck on a 2-on-1.
The Leafs opened the scoring against the run of play with 4:12 left in the period when Mikheyev took a pass from Justin Holl and beat a leaning Andersen on the shortside with a backhand for his 12th goal of the season.
Kallgren, who made 35 saves Tuesday to become fourth goalie in franchise history to register a shutout in his first NHL start, made a terrific pad stop on Brady Skjei early in the second.
Toronto then made it 2-0 when John Tavares tipped Timothy Liljegren’s stretch pass over Carolina defenceman Jaccob Slavin’s stick to spring Marner, and he made no mistake past Andersen’s blocker for the winger’s 24th.
Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal beat Kallgren, but not his post, later in the period on a terrific chance from the slot.
Andersen, who played five seasons with the Leafs before departing for Carolina via free agency in July, entered with an NHL-best 2.06 goals-against average and sat tied for second in the league with 30 wins.
He had to be sharp to keep his team down by only two when he fired his blocker out to deny Mikheyev on a nice Toronto passing play later in the second.
Bear ended Kallgren’s shutout streak at 132 minutes 12 seconds on a shot through the five-hole for his fourth at 4:09 of the third to make it 2-1.
But Kase restored Toronto’s two-goal lead with his third goal in as many games at 7:20 when he took a sweet saucer pass from William Nylander to bury his 14th.
Carolina pulled Andersen trying to get back within striking distance, but Kallgren’s play coupled with some desperate defending kept them at bay before Trocheck scored a consolation goal, his 16th, with 3.6 seconds left.
The Leafs sported their green and white Toronto St. Pats jerseys – a nod to the franchise’s moniker from 1919 through 1927 – on St. Patrick’s Day, while the Hurricanes donned their home reds.
Notes: Matthews is eligible to return to Toronto’s lineup Saturday in Nashville. … The Hurricanes are at Washington on Friday. … Leafs winger Wayne Simmonds was a healthy scratch for the second straight game.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 17, 2022.
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