The Toronto Maple Leafs received a strong goaltending performance to kick off a three-game road trip through California.
Now, the Maple Leafs will be looking for more of the same when they face the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday.
Toronto snapped a three-game losing streak with a 3-0 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday. Maple Leafs goalie Martin Jones turned in a 31-save performance — a huge boost for a team that has been victimized by goaltending issues much of the season — and William Nylander scored two goals.
“Right from the drop of the puck in the first period, our guys really showed that they were on a bit of a mission,” Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said. “That’s what we’re capable of. A terrific effort.”
The Maple Leafs have a tough decision for the Anaheim game, whether to play Jones on consecutive nights or give Dennis Hildeby — a 2022 fourth-round draft pick out of Sweden — his first NHL action.
Joseph Woll is out due to injury and Ilya Samsonov, slated to be the No.1 goalie when the season started, was sent to the minors on Monday in the hopes he can regain his form.
Jones said he feels good enough to play on consecutive nights, even after facing 25 shots in the final two periods at Los Angeles.
“I felt like I was in good position for a lot of the night,” he said. “A lot of the chances they had were straight on. Not a lot of stuff side to side, so that helps.”
At the other end of the ice for the Maple Leafs, Nylander reached the 50-point mark in 35 games this season. It was the fifth fewest games a player needed to hit that mark in franchise history, behind by Lorne Carr (31 games in 1943-44 and 34 games in 1942-43), Doug Gilmour (33 games in 1992-93) and Darryl Sittler (34 games in 1977-78).
Anaheim is back in action after a 7-2 thumping at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers on New Year’s Eve.
The Ducks have only one win in the first five games of an eight-game homestand, their longest of the season, and they own a 4-17-0 record since Nov. 15.
Defending has been an issue during the slide, and the Ducks paid fully for it against the Oilers, with the biggest culprit being not protecting in front of the net, according to coach Greg Cronin.
“That’s something we’ve talked about,” Cronin said. “I don’t know if they’re panicking or what. I don’t have an answer for you, but I know it’s correctable.”
Anaheim has lost twice this season to Edmonton by a combined score of 15-4. The Ducks actually outshot the high-flying Oilers 14-10 in the first period Sunday but trailed 2-1 at the opening intermission and then completely fell apart.
“We have a good enough group to be able to play with (Edmonton) for the full 60 (minutes),” Ducks defenseman Radko Gudas said. “It doesn’t have to be 6-2 or 7-2 like it was. I don’t think the score showed the chances, but ultimately we’ve got to find a way to keep the puck out of our net.”
As of Tuesday night, no decision had been made as to whether Anaheim forward Troy Terry would return to action after missing Sunday game due to an upper-body injury. The Ducks were already without rookie sensation Leo Carlsson due to injury, and they are also struggling to score consistently, with only Frank Vatrano (team-leading 17 goals) regularly lighting the lamp.
–Field Level Media