Lowly Coyotes net first win by upsetting Leafs

TORONTO – Shayne Gostisbehere scored the winner on a power play late in the third period and added an assist as the Arizona Coyotes picked up their first victory of the season by defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 on Monday night.

Christian Fischer, Nick Ritchie and Lawson Crouse, into an empty net, had the other goals for rebuilding Arizona (1-2-0). Karel Vejmelka made 26 saves for the Coyotes, who blew a 2-0 lead with under eight minutes left in regulation.

William Nylander and Mitch Marner replied for Toronto (2-2-0), while Erik Kallgren made 15 stops in his first start of the season. John Tavares picked up two assists for the 900th point of his career.

After the Leafs stormed back to tie the game 2-2 late in the third, Gostisbehere scored on a power play with 1:33 left in regulation.

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Toronto appeared to tie the game when Kerfoot scored with 39 seconds left, but the NHL situation room determined there was a hand pass by Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly earlier in the sequence, negating the goal.

Crouse iced the game into an empty net with 10.2 seconds left as boos rained down from the stands.

A seventh-round pick by Arizona at the 2015 NHL draft — a 2019-20 season spent in the Coyotes’ minor-league system was the goalie’s only action with the organization — Kallgren got the call with Ilya Samsonov getting a breather and Matt Murray (groin) on long-term injured reserve until at least the middle of November.

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The Coyotes, who opened the season by getting outscored a combined 12-5 in Boston and Pittsburgh, jumped out to a surprising lead against the heavily favoured Leafs with 25.8 seconds left in the first period on a power play.

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Signed by Toronto in the summer of 2021 to play on the top line with Marner and Auston Matthews before falling out of favour and subsequently getting traded to Arizona, Ritchie fired a shot from the slot off the post and in on Kallgren for his third goal in as many games.

The Leafs had a pair of man-advantage opportunities in the opening period and barely let the Coyotes touch the puck for long stretches in what looked at times like a long game of keep away, but only registered five total shots.

The Coyotes, who finished 31st in the overall standings last season and appear destined for a similar finish in 2022-23, went ahead 2-0 at 8:30 of the second when Fischer beat Kallgren between the pads from in tight.

Toronto, which has a history of playing down to the level of lesser opponents in recent seasons, nearly fell behind 3-0 later in the period, but Kallgren held the fort on a Coyotes power play before the Leafs were booed off the Scotiabank Arena ice at the second intermission.

The crowd only got more restless in the third period when Toronto’s power play went a fourth straight opportunity without registering a shot. Kallgren followed that up by stopping Zack Kassian on a breakaway to keep his team down by two.

The Leafs got another man advantage, and after more fan frustration, finally got on the board when Nylander picked up a loose puck and fired home his third with 7:06 left in regulation.

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With the forward lines in a blender, Marner tied it just 24 seconds later when he jumped on a Coyotes turnover for his first.

Recalled on an emergency basis after Murray was hurt before Toronto’s 3-2 victory over Ottawa, Kallgren helped steady the Leafs’ crease last season when Jack Campbell and Petr Mrazek were either injured, struggling or both.

The Swede made his NHL debut for Toronto against Arizona last March in relief after Mrazek allowed four goals on 12 shots. Kallgren stopped the first 10 shots he faced, but was beaten in overtime.

MUZZIN OUT

The Leafs lost defenceman Jake Muzzin to a neck injury in the second period.

The 33-year-old missed the start of training camp with back discomfort.

MATTHEWS A HIT

The reigning Hart Trophy winner and 60-goal man from last season entered play second on the team and sixth in the NHL with 14 hits.

Matthews said Monday morning adding a physical element to his game has been a conscious decision.

“Trying to make it more consistent throughout the year to be physical and lead the way in that department,” he said. “Then it’s no excuse for everybody to do the same.”

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ROBERTSON WAITS

Murray going on LTIR had one benefit for the Leafs — salary cap flexibility.

The club to recalled winger Nick Robertson, veteran forward Wayne Simmonds and defenceman Victor Mete from the AHL on Sunday.

Robertson deserved to be with the Leafs out of training camp following a strong pre-season, but was caught in a numbers game and sent to the minors because he didn’t require waivers.

“We’ve got people that, in a different circumstance, would have made our team and would have been with our group,” Toronto head coach Sheldon Keefe, who didn’t make any lineup changes against the Coyotes other than Kallgren for Samsonov, said Sunday.

“More competition and more accountability … that’s very healthy for our team.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 17, 2022.

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