Edmonton Oilers late rally falls short in loss to Toronto Maple Leafs

Frederik Andersen made 31 saves as the Toronto Maple Leafs held off a late rally for a 3-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night at Rogers Place.

“They’re a good hockey team,” Oilers captain Connor McDavid said. “They’re solid all over, they never make mistakes, they’re obviously skilled. They just come at you in waves.”

John Tavares had one goal and two assists as the Leafs snapped the Oilers’ four-game winning streak.

“We played a really good road game. We didn’t get rewarded as much as I think that we could have. Every one was doing a lot of good things out there and making it hard for them,” Leafs forward John Tavares said.

“They’re a deep team and the competition is rich, so unless you were on top of your game every shift, you got exposed,” Oilers head coach Ken Hitchcock said.

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The Leafs had the edge in the first period and took the lead with three seconds left in their second power play of the period. Morgan Rielly’s seeing-eye point shot beat Anthony Stolarz over the right shoulder with 14 seconds to go in the session.

The Oilers had two power plays in the first half of the second period but couldn’t even it up. John Tavares flipped a shot from in tight, past Stolarz with 7:32 to go in the second. Andersen twice moved quickly across to deny Leon Draisaitl on one-timers in the period.

Jake Muzzin slapped home a saucer pass from William Nylander to put the Leafs up by three early in the third. Later in the period, the Oilers had a two-man advantage for 37 seconds, but Andersen came up with several big saves to keep them off the board.

With Stolarz on the bench for an extra attacker, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins finally solved Andersen with 1:39 left in the game. With 52.2 ticks on the clock, Oscar Klefbom buried a pass from Connor McDavid to pull the Oilers within a goal.

“Obviously you want to play right to the end, but at the same time with a 3-0 lead you don’t wanna go out there and take chances,” Tavares said. “Certainly there’s no question they’re going to take chances and when a guy like [McDavid] and his type of talent, he doesn’t need much.”

Zack Kassian had an open shot off the rush with 30 seconds left, but Andersen made the stop.

“He was outstanding. I thought he made a lot of really impressive saves but more than that he plays the puck,” Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly said of Andersen. “He’s a leader for us and we’ve almost become used to him a little bit just because of how consistent he’s really been. Tonight was another example of that.”

Stolarz made 37 saves in his first start as an Oiler while Mikko Koskinen was struck down by an illness. Koskinen dressed as the backup but stayed in the dressing room.

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“You look down at the other end and Freddy [Andersen] is making save after save so you’re just trying to match him and match his compete,” Stolarz said. “Hopefully I proved to staff and management that if Mikko needs a rest that I can spell him.”

“He was big for us,” Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse said of Stolarz. “We wouldn’t have had an opportunity to even be in this game without some of the saves he made.”

The Oilers, 30-31-7, will host the New York Rangers on Monday.


with files from 630 CHED’s Brenden Escott and Scott Johnston

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