Toronto Maple Leafs rookie goalie Erik Kallgren posts back-to-back wins
By Neil Becker
Once again Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Erik Kallgren was the story.
Two days following a successful Leafs debut which saw him make 35 saves in a 4-0 shutout at Scotiabank Arena against the Dallas Stars, Kallgren showed that it was no fluke.
Kallgren might not have gotten a shutout but he was solid on Thursday night where he made over 30 saves in a 3-2 win at Scotiabank Arena against the Carolina Hurricanes.
In stating the obvious, this was a big win for the Leafs who played a Hurricanes team that is among the favorites to win the Stanley Cup.
Toronto, who are 4-1-1 in their past six games were playing without superstar forward Auston Matthews who was sitting out the second of a two-game suspension.
Kallgren, who is only 25 years old was tested early and often in the first period as he was perfect in saving all 14 Hurricanes shots.
Meanwhile, the Leafs gave him some breathing room when forward Ilya Mikheyev scored his second in two games and 12th of the season which with a little under five minutes remaining in the first had Toronto out in front by a 1-0 score.
Almost five minutes into the second, the Leafs got a big insurance goal from forward Mitch Marner who received a breakout stretch pass from defenceman Timothy Liljegren before skating on a 2 on 1 break and scoring what was his 24th goal to double the lead.
The Hurricanes, who are currently four- points up on Toronto snapped Kallgren’s shutout string as defenceman Ethan Bear grabbed a loose puck and just past the four-minute mark wristed it between Kallgren’s legs which cut the deficit to one.
Shortly afterwards the Leafs re-gained that two-goal lead as forward Ondrej Kase on a two on one break scored his 12th goal at the 7:20 mark off a perfect feed from William Nylander.
Carolina would get one back as forward Vincent Trocheck scored with only 3.6 seconds remaining but it wasn’t enough as the Leafs grabbed two important points.
Heading into the final 20 games, Toronto now sits only five points behind the Florida Panthers for first place in the Atlantic Division.
Toronto will next see action on Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena with a 7 p.m. opening faceoff against the Nashville Predators.
15:48 Ilya Mikheyev (12) 0 – 1
4:39 Mitch Marner (24) 0 – 2
3rd. Period CAR- TOR
4:09 Ethan Bear (4) 1 – 2
7:20 Ondrej Kase (14) 1 – 3
19:56 Vincent Trocheck (16) 2 – 3