Monahan, Lindholm lead Flames past Leafs 3-1
TORONTO (AP) — Booed out of their own building after a lopsided loss last week, the Calgary Flames recommitted to their defensive structure and the move paid off against Toronto.
Sean Monahan and Elias Lindholm scored in a 55-second span of the third period to lead the Flames to a 3-1 victory over the Maple Leafs on Monday night, snapping a three-game losing streak.
“We put together 60 good minutes,” said Lindholm, who leads his team with eight goals after coming over in a blockbuster trade with the Carolina Hurricanes at the NHL draft. “We were above them all night, first to pucks, won battles.”
Lindholm and Monahan each added an assist. Michael Frolik added an empty-net goal to seal it. Mike Smith made 24 saves.
Nazem Kadri, playing his 500th NHL game, scored for Toronto. Frederik Andersen stopped 31 shots.
The Leafs lacked jump in their first game without Auston Matthews. It was announced earlier Monday that the center would miss at least four weeks with a left shoulder injury.
“Our last two games have been the way we want to play,” Calgary captain Mark Giordano said. “When you play well defensively the goals come.”
Monahan snapped a scoreless tie 4:39 into the third on a power play, netting his fifth goal of the season of a rebound of a shot by Lindholm.
Lindholm then gave the Flames, who were 0-2-1 over their last three, a 2-0 edge with his team-leading eighth goal at 6:34 after the Leafs turned the puck over in their own zone.
“I thought they skated, I thought they worked, I thought they sailed out of their zone and beat us up the ice,” said Leafs head coach Mike Babcock, whose club was coming off back-to-back wins over the Winnipeg Jets. “The game is frustrating when the other team works harder than you.”
Toronto defenseman Igor Ozhiganov hit the post at the other end on the next shift.
The Leafs got to within one at 16:07, when Kadri scored his third of the season and third in as many games on a feed from Mitch Marner, one second after a Toronto two-man advantage of 1:09 expired.
The Leafs pressed for the tie, but were unable to get another one past Smith before Frolik added an insurance goal into an empty net, his fifth goal of the season.
The Flames fell 3-2 in a shootout to the Washington Capitals in Calgary on Saturday — a result that, despite the final score, was viewed as a step in the right direction after getting blown out 9-1 by the Pittsburgh Penguins at home 48 hours earlier.
Andersen kept things scoreless early in the second when he made a right pad save that stopped Lindholm on a delayed penalty, before Smith stopped Hyman at the other end.
Johnny Gaudreau cut around Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner later in the period, but couldn’t get a shot away on Andersen.
The Leafs goalie stopped Matthew Tkachuk and Mikael Backlund before John Tavares shoveled a loose puck off a scramble into Smith’s open net, but it was just after the buzzer sounded to end the second period.
The 21-year-old Matthews, who doesn’t require surgery for his damaged shoulder, was hurt on a clean check by Jets defenceman Jacob Trouba early in the second period of Saturday’s 3-2 comeback victory over Winnipeg.
Matthews sustained a similar injury to his other shoulder last February and missed 10 games — his third stint on the sidelines in 2017-18 following back and concussion problems — but still managed to finish second on the team in goals (34) and points (63) in just 62 appearances.
He will sit out at least 13 games with this injury, and perhaps more if the recovery process stretches beyond 28 days.
Matthews has 10 goals (tied for second in the NHL) and 16 points (tied for sixth) through 11 games this season.
Calgary held a 12-4 edge in shots, with Toronto’s output in the opening 20 minutes tying its lowest in any period in 2018-19.
With their best player on the shelf, the Leafs were forced to shuffle their lines over Saturday’s final two periods and again on Monday.
Kadri, who started the campaign as Toronto’s No. 3 center, was reunited with Marner and Patrick Marleau after the trio clicked in the second half 2017-18, while Tavares played between Hyman and Kasperi Kapanen to round out the top-six forward group.
The Leafs are also still without winger William Nylander, who was slated to start the season alongside Matthews and Marleau following the addition of Tavares this summer, as the restricted free agent and the club remain at odds over a new contract.
“It’s frustrating,” Matthews said of his injury prior to Monday’s game. “There’s not much you can do.
“I’m going to work as hard as I can to get back as soon as possible.”
NOTES: Marner has five assists in his last three games. ... The Leafs were 11-7-2 without Matthews last season. ... Leafs defenseman Travis Dermott, who missed both victories over Winnipeg because of an illness, was a healthy scratch.
Calgary: Back in action Tuesday in Buffalo.
Toronto: Hosts the Dallas Stars on Thursday.
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