Matthews streak ends, Flames shut out Maple Leafs
Auston Matthews was held without a point for the first time in 17 games when David Rittich made 34 saves for the Calgary Flames in a 3-0 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena on Monday.
Rittich got the start after Calgary announced less than an hour before the game that goalie Jacob Markstrom was out with an upper-body injury.
“I was ready, I kind of thought there was a chance I was going to play, so I prepared myself yesterday to play,” Rittich said. “I felt pretty good, and the team did a really good job helping me with the rebounds, a lot of blocked shots. You could really see the team effort.”
It was the third shutout by a Flames goalie in Toronto and the first since Yves Belanger for the Atlanta Flames on Dec. 31, 1977.
“Unreal. He was feeling it there,” Calgary forward Matthew Tkachuk said. “He was confident, calm, everything you want to see from a goalie. Can’t say enough great things about him.”
Tkachuk, Sam Bennett and Sean Monahan scored for the Flames (9-9-1), who had lost three in a row, including 7-1 to the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday.
Michael Hutchinson made 29 saves for the Maple Leafs (14-4-2), who had won three in a row and were 3-0-1 in their previous four.
“I thought our team played like one that was expecting things to go bad and not go our way rather than making it go our way, so I didn’t like our mindset in that sense,” Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said. “This was our 20th game of the season tonight, so I think we’ve shown this is not us.”
Hutchinson started after Toronto announced about a half-hour before the game that goalie Frederik Andersen was out with a lower-body injury.
“I got told early in the day and had plenty of time to prepare and get ready like any other game day,” Hutchinson said.
Matthews scored 28 points (18 goals, 10 assists) during his personal 16-game point streak, including four points in each of the previous two games. The streak started Jan. 16 in a 3-2 win against the Ottawa Senators.
Bennett gave the Flames a 1-0 lead at 3:55 of the first period when he put in the rebound of Rasmus Andersson’s point shot, which got between Hutchinson’s pads and was loose at the side of the net.
Tkachuk made it 2-0 at 9:28 of the second period when he deflected Mark Giordano’s point shot in the slot on the power play for his 100th NHL goal. It ended a nine-game goal drought for Tkachuk.
The Maple Leafs had a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:36 later in the period after Elias Lindholm took a minor penalty for tripping at 14:35 with Johnny Gaudreau serving a penalty for tripping at 14:11.
Toronto was 0-for-7 on the power play.
“We didn’t give up much on that 5-on-3 at all,” Tkachuk said. “I really liked what I saw from the guys there. That’s kind of what won us the game.”
Monahan, who returned after missing two games with a lower-body injury, put the Flames up 3-0 at 3:26 of the third period when he scored on the power play.
Matthews had at least one point in 13 straight Toronto games, the longest such streak in the NHL this season, scoring 24 points (16 goals, eight assists) in that span. He did not play in a 4-2 win at the Edmonton Oilers on Jan. 22.
“We didn’t really have a lot of jump to start the game, and they played very desperate tonight,” Matthews said. “Things hadn’t really been going the way they wanted to lately and they definitely came out with a purpose. We didn’t really have any pushback.”
Markstrom and Andersen each is day to day.
“Our guys are comfortable playing in front of David, they’ve got confidence in him, and obviously he’s feeling it again, which is great,” Calgary coach Geoff Ward said. “And it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time for us and for him.”
The Maple Leafs played without defenseman Jake Muzzin, who has a facial injury, and forwards Joe Thornton and Zach Hyman, each out with an undisclosed injury.
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) February 23, 2021
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) February 22, 2021