Frederik Andersen continued his mastery over the Oilers on Saturday and the Maple Leafs shut down the National Hockey League’s most explosive line in a 4-1 victory at Rogers Place.
The Toronto goalie is 12-0-1 against Edmonton. He had 36 saves in what was his 200th win in the NHL. The 30-year-old Dane has reached the 200 mark faster than any European goalie in league history.
Alexander Kerfoot, Ilya Mikheyev, Frederick Gauthier and Mitch Marner scored for the Maple Leafs, who went 3-1 on a road trip that also included stops in St. Louis, Vancouver and Calgary. Their only loss came Thursday night against the Flames.
They return to Scotiabank Arena on Tuesday and hope to be able to stymie Buffalo’s Jack Eichel, the league’s hottest scorer, just as they did Edmonton’s superstar centre Connor McDavid and powerful forward Leon Draisaitl. Eichel had a goal and an assist on Saturday as he extended his points streak to 16 games.
Andersen started all four of Toronto’s contests on the western swing and is now 9-4-0 on the road this season. The Maple Leafs weighed giving one start to Michael Hutchinson but opted not to.
The win was Andersen’s 16th of the season in 27 decisions.
Toronto has now beaten Edmonton the last six times they have played and are 9-2 against the Oilers in their last 11.
The game was fast-paced and cleanly played. A penalty was not called until 5:21 remained in the second period. Jake Muzzin was whistled for a hold on McDavid, but Toronto killed off the penalty with only one shot allowed.
The Maple Leafs had killed off 18 of their last 19 penalties heading into the game.
Toronto went ahead 1-0 when Alexander Kerfoot netted a shot from 13 feet away with 15:20 left in the first period. It was his sixth goal of the season and came on Toronto’s fifth shot.
Toronto increased the advantage to 2-0 early in the second when Mikheyev shovelled one past Mikko Koskinen from a few feet away on the right side of the net. It was the first goal for the Russian rookie in 21 games dating back to Oct. 25.
“It is a long time since I scored,” Mikheyev said. “I was nervous.”
Touched up for four goals in a loss in Calgary on Thursday, Andersen made a handful of excellent saves to keep the Oilers off the boards in the first period.
First, he stopped McDavid as Edmonton’s captain attempted to stuff a puck between the goalie’s legs on a rush. McDavid faked this way and that but could not finish it off.
“He kind of had me in a blender there,” Andersen said.
That was closely followed by a nifty glove save on a hard wrist shot from the left wing by James Neal, a stop on a long wrist shot by Leon Draisaitl and a save on a backhand by Neal.
McDavid and Draisaitl entered the game with 20 points a piece and were first and second in the NHL in scoring, with 57 and 55 points.
“They have a very dangerous top line,” Toronto defenceman Justin Holl said a few hours before the puck drop. “I have never seen a player like Connor McDavid.”
McDavid was held off the scoresheet and Draisaitl was limited to one assist, on a power-play goal in the third period by Alex Chiasson with 13:52 remaining. It was only the fourth time in the last 20 games that McDavid failed to get a point.
Both teams are fast, but the Oilers play with more of a rough edge than the Maple Leafs. Zack Kassian shoved Holl 1:42 into the game, later Darnell Nurse through a punch at Zach Hyman and McDavid tied up John Tavares after Hyman slapped at Koskinen’s glove.
“You have to be careful when you are out there against [McDavid and Draisaitl],” Hyman said earlier Saturday. “Both have a unique skill set and you have to be aware of them.”
The Maple Leafs improved to 16-14-4 and are 7-4 since Sheldon Keefe replaced Mike Babcock as head coach on Nov. 2.
The Oilers dropped to 18-13-4 but have lost their last four games and now seventh of nine.
Gauthier, who had been a healthy scratch for six straight games, flipped a shot over Koskinen into the far corner of the net with 13:11 left to give Toronto a 3-1 lead. Marner scored an empty netter with 1:21 to seal the victory.
Tyson Barrie left midway through the second period after blocking a shot. The Toronto defenceman staggered off the ice, headed directly to the dressing room and did not return.
Holl, who played extremely well against McDavid, was selected the second star of the game.
With the exception of the injury to Barrie, Toronto heads for home Saturday. The road trip could have been better, but just barely.