Lucas Viveiros | The Avro Post
Curtis McElhinney continued his hot play over the weekend.
After emerging victorious over the Buffalo Sabres with a 5-2 win, the Leafs backup goaltender picked up right where he left off, with a 4-0 shutout over the rival Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.
The shutout was McElhinney’s third of the season, and extended the Maple Leafs team record home winning streak to 12 in a row.
Leaf fans were thanking St. Patrick over the weekend for their reliable goalenteding depth, as Andersen and McElhinney have been a steady tandem all year, just as Sparks and Pickard have done for the affiliate Toronto Marlies.
Saturday’s game versus the Habs was far from a tight goaltending battle however, as the leafs dominated in all facets of the game.
It was clear from puck drop that Mike Babcock’s team was prepared and ready to skate the Canadiens into the ground.
As a result the Maple Leafs fourth ranked power play was called to action on four separate occasions, converting with a pair of goals from William Nylander (15) and Nazem Kadri (28).
Kasperi Kapanen also scored his sixth of the season on a breakaway, after burning past Canadiens defender Noah Juulsen and beating Charlie Lindgren glove-side.
It was a memorable night for a Maple Leafs rookie as well, as the young Swede Andreas Johnsson scored his first career NHL goal in only his second career NHL game.
Just like an 8 year old on Christmas Day he wore a wide smile showing pure joy after burying the back door pass from Zach Hyman.
After the game Johnsson was asked what he was feeling after the goal, and he had this to say:
“Just emotions going through my whole body, jumping up and down when we are up 4-0 with five minutes left. I don’t really know what goes through my mind – just happy feelings.”
There are going to be some tough coaching decisions for Babcock and his staff once the Leafs get back to full health, as the team seems to be firing on all cylinders at the moment, even without their star centreman Auston Matthews.
The Maple Leafs now sit five points back of the Boston Bruins, and home ice in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Buds are back in action against the Eastern Conference leading Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night and it appears Fredrik Andersen will be ready to go for game time.
Puck drop is 7:30 p.m. from Amalie Arena on TSN 4.
More news from the ice
- Forwards Zach Hyman and William Nylander, as well as defenseman Connor Carrick and Travis Dermott were all on the ice for Andreas Johnsson’s first career NHL goal. They were all teammates of his when they played together for the Maple Leafs affiliate Toronto Marlies
- On Saturday night, Andreas Johnsson lead the team with 7 shots on goal
- As a team the Leafs threw 49 shots at Montreal Canadiens goaltender Charlie Lindgren
- William Nylander snapped a 13-game goal drought with his 15th goal of the season
- Not only did McElhinney post a shutout on Saturday, but he also added an assist on Kasperi Kapanen’s tally
- Leafs Centre Tomas Plekanec played his first game against his former team, after playing 981 games for the Canadiens
- Forward Patrick Marleau played in his 1,565th game of his career, moving him past Nicklas Lidstrom for 11th place on the NHL’s all time list
- Star centre Auston Matthews continues to practice with the team, and has now been seen wearing a regular contact jersey
- The injuries to winger Leo Komarov and defensemen Nikita Zaitsev are said to be “day-to-day” by coach Babcock
- Garret Sparks was loaned to the Marlies early Monday morning signalling Fredrik Andersen’s return Tuesday night against Tampa
- Also early Monday morning, McElhinney was named the NHL’s third star of the week
More coverage to follow. Images from