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Rittich impresses in debut, Leafs lose to Flames in OT; New Leafs Convo

April 14, 2021, 12:17 PM ET [392 Comments]
Mike Augello
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The Toronto Maple Leafs got a chance to see one of their new additions on display against the Calgary Flames just 24 hours after the NHL Trade Deadline. Goaltender David Rittich made his Leafs debut against his former club and stopped 25 shots in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Flames at Scotiabank Arena on Tuesday.

“I thought he looked really good in the net. I’m sure it’s a difficult night for him. The emotions are part of it, but then the actual gameplay is another thing. Even just the colors of the jerseys and the different people on the ice. You used to be on the other side, that can be difficult.” Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said after the game. “He looked confident and made some good saves for us. I don’t think he had a chance on any of the goals. It was a good debut for him.”

Zach Hyman and Alex Kerfoot scored goals, and John Tavares had two assists for Toronto, who were constantly battling from behind and never held the lead in the contest, surrendering the opening goal to Juuso Valimaki 4:37 into the game and allowing an Elias Lindholm power play goal early in the middle frame.

After Kerfoot tied the game, Toronto was energized and carried the play, hemming the Flames in their zone for a long stretch, but the momentum was squelched by an ineffective four-minute power play for Rasmus Andersson’s high-sticking penalty on Joe Thornton. The Leafs continued to look disorganized on the man advantage, getting only two shots on goal during the double-minor.

Keefe shuffled his lineup slightly in the second of back-to-back games, sitting veteran Jason Spezza and inserting Scott Sabourin for his first start of the season, making for a less potent offensive lineup without William Nylander and Nick Foligno. The Leafs head coach indicated that he intends to give some players an opportunity for rest down the stretch.

“We’ll see how it goes. We’ll take it a day and a game at a time, but that is my thinking.” Keefe said. “Both our roster and our salary cap situation are different here now, so we think that’s going to present us some opportunities that we haven’t had up until this point. We will look to do that throughout (the remainder of the season).


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