Campbell shuts the door as Maple Leafs pick up much-needed victory over Flames

·4 min read

TORONTO — Jack Campbell made 31 saves to record his second shutout of the season as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Calgary Flames 2-0 on Saturday night.

Jason Spezza and Zach Hyman scored for Toronto (20-10-2), which snapped a three-game losing streak and won for just the second time in eight contests. The regulation victory was also the Leafs' first since completing a dominant sweep of the Oilers in Edmonton on March 3.

Toronto had a nine-point lead atop the North Division at the time, but entered Saturday tied with the Oilers for first on points with two games in hand. The Winnipeg Jets, meanwhile, were two points back with a game in hand.

David Rittich stopped 30 shots for Calgary (15-14-3), which downed the Leafs 4-3 on Friday.

Starting for just the second time since suffering a leg injury against the Flames in Calgary on Jan. 24, Campbell provided Toronto with a much-needed performance in the crease after a string of shaky outings from struggling No. 1 option Frederik Andersen.

Campbell, who entered with a 3-0-0 record and .951 save percentage this season, was backed up by Michael Hutchinson as the Leafs gave Andersen the night off. Since returning from a lower-body injury earlier this month, Andersen is just 2-5-0 with an .876 save percentage.

Rittich, meanwhile, came in 1-0-1 against the Leafs this season after stopping 71 of 73 shots in another two-game set between the teams last month, but watched Jacob Markstrom start the first seven games after Darryl Sutter took over as head coach earlier this month.

Having watched Andersen allow goals on two of the first four shots he faced Friday, Campbell was solid early to settle a team that's suffered through miserable starts during its shaky run the last 2 1/2 weeks.

Toronto scored first for just the second time in its last eight games when Spezza snapped his seventh — and second in as many nights — after Jake Muzzin made a good read to keep the play alive at Calgary's blue line. Spezza, who rang a shot off the iron moments earlier, collected a bouncing puck down low before firing upstairs on Rittich as the Leafs breathed a massive sigh of relief by taking a 1-0 lead into the intermission.

Coming off Friday's result where they managed only 18 shots, including just two in the third period, the Flames had a couple of chances early in the second, but Campbell was there to deny both Elias Lindholm and Andrew Mangiapane.

Toronto's netminder, who picked up the fourth shutout of his career, then stopped Derek Ryan on a short-handed chance after William Nylander turned the puck over in the neutral zone.

NHL goal leader Auston Matthews rang a shot off the post later in the man advantage with Rittich at his mercy before Muzzin also found iron moments after the penalty expired as the Leafs continued to lead 1-0.

The home side would finally get a two-goal lead — Toronto's first since that three-game series in Edmonton — with 3:32 left in the period on a great individual effort from Hyman. With Morgan Rielly driving hard through the middle and occupying two Flames, the winger took the puck around Calgary's net and fired a shot through Rittich for his 11th of the campaign.

Toronto got its fourth power play early in the third, but despite some good zone time were unable to break through in falling to 1 for 17 over its last eight contests.

Leafs defenceman Justin Holl's deflected shot then hit another Calgary post before Matthews was denied on the follow-up with another shot that struck iron.

Sean Monahan had an opportunity in tight for the Flames with under nine minutes to go, but Campbell was there again.

Campbell then denied Matthew Tkachuk with a terrific double pad stack save on a Calgary power play with under five minutes left in regulation to keep the shutout intact.

Notes: Hyman has seven goals in his last 11 games. Alex Galchenyuk picked up an assist on Hyman's goal for his first point with Toronto. ... The Flames conclude their four-game road trip with a pair in Ottawa against the Senators on Monday and Wednesday. ... The Leafs' next contest goes Thursday in the nation's capital before Edmonton visits Toronto for two.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 20, 2021.

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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press