Zach Hyman scored twice, Kasperi Kapanen had the game-winner and Jack Campbell rescued the Maple Leafs in the net yet again in a 3-2 overtime victory over the Arizona Coyotes at Scotiabank Arena on Tuesday night.
Campbell, acquired last week in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings, made 35 saves in his second victory in three starts filling in for the injured Frederik Andersen. All three of Campbell’s games have gone to overtime.
“He is an unbelievable goalie and he is playing well,” said Kapanen, who scored on a breakaway with 1:17 left in an extra period where Arizona had a goal overturned for goalie interference and Campbell stopped Taylor Hall twice. “He has come in here and performed under unbelievable pressure.”
It was the fourth game Andersen has missed since suffering a neck injury against the Florida Panthers on Feb. 3. Andersen returned to practice on Monday and took part in Tuesday’s morning skate but afterward head coach Sheldon Keefe announced he was not yet ready to return.
“It’s just part of the process,” Keefe said. “He wanted to get another skate in to see how he felt. He has been progressing very well and working toward a return but he is not there yet.”
Campbell accounted well for himself in back-to-back starts on Friday and Saturday against Anaheim and Montreal. He went 1-0-1 and had 28 saves in an overtime loss to the Canadiens. He was sharper still on Tuesday.
“I like the confidence that he has in himself and the confidence he brings to our team," Keefe said of the team’s new backup goalie. "He is excited with every opportunity that comes about. He is prepared and ready for everything.”
Campbell entered the night 3-2-1 in his career against Arizona, with a career-high 49 saves against the Coyotes in a Kings victory last April.
He gave up a goal on the game’s first shot on Tuesday, a play in which he was blameless. Christian Dvorak scored when a puck bounced off another player in front of the net right to him. He buried it and the Coyotes, who were playing the second game of a back to back, led 1-0 only 1:04 into it.
After the unlucky start, Campbell turned away one good chance after the next. The Maple Leafs tied it at 1-1 when a one-timer by Tyson Barrie ricocheted off Zach Hyman past Coyotes goalie Adin Hill with 5:37 remaining in the period. It was the 15th goal for Hyman, who was on the injured list for the first 19 games of the season.
The game turned out to be a terrific duel between the two backup goalies. Hill, who had won only twice in seven decisions entering the night, made 38 saves in the defeat.
Neither team got much done in the second, which featured a number of terrific stops by Campbell: a wrist shot by Alex Goligoski denied, another by Lawson Crouse after a turnover, a short-handed attempt by Jakob Chychrun, a shot snapped by Clayton Keller.
The Coyotes finally went ahead 46 seconds before the intermission when Carl Soderberg backhanded the puck into the corner of the net. It was the third in a flurry of shots and the only one Campbell could not save.
That bode well for Arizona, which came into the matchup 18-4-2 when Soderberg has a goal.
It also bode badly for Toronto, which has won only three times in 19 games when trailing after two periods.
Instead, the Maple Leafs came out and tied it at 2-2 when Hyman scored again with 18:27 remaining. He has 16 points in 17 games on home ice and 27 points over his last 27 games.
Toronto has fattened up its record against Western Conference opponents at 15-7-2 and is 8-3-1 in games against teams from the Pacific Division. It has struggled badly against Arizona for years, however. Entering Tuesday night, the Coyotes had earned a point in nine straight games in Toronto, going 8-0-1. The last time the Maple Leafs beat Arizona in regulation on home ice is Oct. 17, 2002.
In the only other game between them this season, the Maple Leafs won 3-1 in Arizona on Nov. 21 in Keefe’s first game behind the bench. The long-time Marlies coach took over after Mike Babcock was fired and has led the team to a 21-9-4 record since then.
Both teams are in tightly contested races for a post-season berth. Arizona started well and once sat atop the Pacific Division but has gone 3-7-4 over its last 14 games and had dropped out of a playoff spot entering Tuesday night.
The Maple Leafs are third in the Atlantic Division, two points ahead of the Panthers, but can ill afford many losses.
“We are at a crucial point in the season,” Jason Spezza said Monday after practice in Etobicoke. “You expect the intensity to ramp up now and every game becomes a must-win. You win two games in a row and create a little room for yourself. You lose two and start feeling the heat of teams catching you.”
It is still unknown if Andersen will be available when the Dallas Stars visit Scotiabank Arena on Thursday. He had hoped to return against Arizona. If not, Campbell has shown he is more than capable.
“He battles. He is a confident guy and he gives us a chance to win,” Keefe said. “It is the best you can get in a situation like this.”