The Toronto Maple Leafs followed up one of their best performances of the season against Edmonton on Saturday with another solid two-way road effort, opening up an early lead and relying on energetic team defense and the goaltending of Michael Hutchinson in a 3-0 shutout of the Oilers at Rogers Place on Monday.
Zach Hyman, William Nylander, and Morgan Rielly scored first period goals and Hutchinson made 31 saves for his sixth career shutout. The Leafs were not as dominant as they were in the first of the three-game series, allowing NHL leading scorer Connor McDavid six shots on goal and Edmonton four opportunities on the power play.
“I thought today’s game is a different animal than what we had the other night. I don’t think we were nearly as good today. (Hutchinson) was outstanding.” Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “The first five, 10 minutes of the first period it could have gone real ugly for us. Hutch gave us a chance to gather ourselves a little bit and then we were very opportunistic and capitalized on the chances we have to build the lead. It’s very good for our confidence as a group that we’re able to deal with different situations if we pull together and we get big performances from different people.”
On top of the club getting a second straight shutout, the Leafs special teams were once again sharp, converting on the man advantage and killing off four minor penalties, but getting another impressive performance from the checking line of Hyman, Ilya Mikheyev, and Pierre Engvall. Hyman opened the scoring with his sixth of the season at 7:19 of the first period, while Mikheyev and Engvall frustrated Edmonton with their size and speed.
“(Hard work is) just a part of my game. It’s something I need to do to be successful and to be effective.” Hyman said. “I need to bring that energy and work ethic every night and that’s what makes me a successful player.
After the game, Keefe provided an update on goalie Jack Campbell (who did not skate after his shutout on Saturday), saying that the Leafs backup re-aggravated his leg injury in the victory and is day-to-day. Frederik Andersen took part in the morning skate on Monday and is moving his way towards a return, which likely means that he will play in one of the two back-to-back games on Wednesday in Edmonton or on Thursday in Vancouver.
Auston Matthews is also improving but was limited in practice on Monday. Keefe indicated that the medical staff are waiting for the strength to come back in his injured wrist and that he could be a game-time decision for the final game of the three-game series on Wednesday.
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