Toronto Maple Leafs battle back from three goal deficit but lose in OT to Arizona Coyotes
By Neil Becker
It was quite the scene for rookie Swedish goaltender Erik Kallgren who received quite the rousing ovation.
Kallgren, who was drafted by the Arizona Coyotes 183rd overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, was a recent emergency call-up from the Toronto Marlies to the Toronto Maple Leafs after starter Jack Campbell suffered a rib injury.
The Leafs, who for weeks have been struggling in goal had back-up Petr Mrazek in goal on Thursday night at home in a game where he struggled and after allowing four goals on 12 shots was pulled in the second period of what was an eventual 5-4 overtime loss against the Arizona Coyotes.
Toronto, who has one of the NHL’s most potent offenses, found themselves at Scotiabank Arena trailing by a 4-1 score in the third when their offense erupted for three straight goals less than five minutes apart. Nothing was settled until overtime when the Coyotes scored on a controversial play.
Auston Matthews, who increased his league-leading goal total to 44 looked like and argued afterward that on the winning goal, he was when backchecking was being interfered with. He questioned the official but to no prevail as the overtime winner scored by defenceman Jakob Chychrun at the 2:17 mark counted.
The real hero on this night was Kallgren who including overtime finished up with 10 saves on 11 shots plus a few ovations from the Scotiabank Arena faithful.
It’s no secret that with the inconsistent play of both Campbell and Mrazek, there have been all sorts of questions among media and fans about whether the goaltending is good enough for a long playoff run. As the March 21st trade deadline gets closer, various names such as Brayden Holtby and Marc-Andre Fleury have been rumored about possibly coming to Toronto.
Another chapter was written in the Leafs goalie controversy with the strong play of Kallgren who made a strong case in possibly starting the March 13th Tim Hortons Heritage Classic at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ontario.
Arizona, who came into Thursday night’s game on a three-game winning streak scored consecutive first period goals with the first being from former Leafs forward Alex Galchenyuk who at the 2:09 mark scored off a sloppy rebound from Mrazek. A little over two minutes later they doubled the lead as Chychrun his first of two on a dribbler of a shot which got past the prone goalie.
During the second period Arizona, who was coming off a 9-2 road win against the Detroit Red Wings, struck a little over a minute in as Travis Boyd scored his 12th of the season when his shot from in close deflected off of Leafs defenceman Timothy Liljegren and into the net.
Looking for some payback after dropping back on January 10th a 2-1 decision in Arizona, the Leafs got some momentum when at the 4:55 mark forward Pierre Engvall cashed in with his 10th goal on a rebound which cut the Leafs deficit to 3-1.
That Leafs momentum boost didn’t last long as the Coyotes came back a little over seven minutes later when Christian Fischer scored his fifth of the season to not only restore the Coyotes’ three-goal lead but also chasing Mrazek from the game.
Toronto’s offense came alive in the third when they struck for three straight goals starting with Alex Kerfoot notching his 10th at the 3:39 mark and followed by Matthews with his 44th and William Nylander with his 23rd which came at 8:17 and made it a brand- new game.
After Matthews scored, he pointed to the net as play went on until a few seconds later the horn sounded to signify that yes it was a goal.
Eventually, the game went into overtime where Kallgren showed his quickness in making his best save of the night which came off of Coyotes defenceman Shayne Gostisbehere. The Coyotes would end up having the last laugh as Chychrun would score his second and send the Coyotes to their fourth win in a row. goal
As mentioned above, the Leafs next game will be on Sunday when they will be taking it outside at Tim Hortons Field where they will be facing off at 4 p.m. against the Buffalo Sabres in the much anticipated Tim Hortons Heritage Classic.
2:09 Alex Galchenyuk (5) 1 – 0
4:21 Jakob Chychrum (6) 2 – 0
1:08 Travis Boyd (12) 3 – 0
4:55 Pierre Engvall (10) 3 – 1
11:57 Christian Fischer (5) 4 – 1
3:38 Alex Kerfoot (10) 4 – 2
8:07 Auston Matthews (44) 4 – 3
8:17 William Nylander (23) 4 – 4
2:17 OT Period
Matias Maccelli (2) 5 – 4