Maple Leafs complete first Californian sweep since 1995
Victory in Anaheim would give the Leafs 28 points and bump them to first overall. In squeaking by the Ducks 2-1 in an overtime thriller, the Leafs did that and more. The Leafs now sit first overall in the NHL standings this late into a season for the first time since January 1, 2004.
Morgan Reilly scored with 1:43 remaining in overtime to lift the Maple Leafs over the Anaheim Ducks 2-1 on Friday night for a three-game sweep through the Golden State.
The win allowed Toronto to overtake Nashville and Tampa Bay for the NHL’s best record at 14-6-0. The Maple Leafs — who beat Los Angeles on Tuesday and San Jose on Thursday — have won six of seven and are unbeaten in three overtime games this season.
Coming into the trip, Toronto had dropped 10 of 12 in California.
“I’ve had lots of good teams come out here and not be able to do it. One team always seems to get you on the back to back,” Toronto coach Mike Babcock said. “I think we have some real good veterans, and we have to be steady on the rudder. We have the chance to be a real good team over time and have to keep on building.”
Reilly was wide open to the right of goalie John Gibson when he took a pass from Mitch Marner and unleashed a wrist shot for his ninth of the season. It is Marner’s 20th assist and 26th point, which puts him tied for second in the league in scoring. Reilly is tied for sixth with 25 points.
Patrick Marleau scored Toronto’s other goal. Garret Sparks, who was playing in only his fourth game of the season, stopped a career-high 38 shots.
“I felt pretty good. I didn’t like the goal I let in, but other than that it is all about competing and trying to get in front of the next puck,” Sparks said.
Pontus Aberg scored for Anaheim and Gibson stopped 33 shots. The Ducks have dropped three of four.
Anaheim had a couple of open-goal chances in the third period but was unable to convert.
“We’ve been snakebit to provide offence and tonight was a demonstration of that,” Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. “It was probably the most frustrating time all year because of the open nets we missed.”
Marleau opened the scoring less than seven minutes into the game when he positioned himself in front of the net and redirected Jake Gardiner’s pass with his left skate. It is the 539th goal of Marleau’s career, giving him sole possession of 32nd place on the NHL’s career list
Aberg tied it with less than two minutes remaining in the second period with a 45-foot slap shot for his team-leading sixth. The goal broke a Ducks’ scoring drought of 124:05, dating back to the second period of Monday’s game against Nashville.
The Leafs are now 9-0 when scoring first this season, ominous signs for opposing teams. The Maple Leafs are also 2-1-0 in the second game of back-to-backs.
Next up for the Leafs is a home fixture against Columbus on Monday.