Maple Leafs overwhelm Flames
CALGARY, Alberta — The Toronto Maple Leafs continued their strong play on the road with a 4-1 win over the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Tuesday.
Roman Polak, Nikita Zaitsev, Nazem Kadri and Leo Komarov scored for the Maple Leafs (16-9-1), who improved their road record to 8-4-1.
“It’s important to get on that road groove and get rolling on the road because you have to be a good road team to be successful in this league,” said Leafs center Zach Hyman, who set up Zaitsev’s game-winning goal in the second period.
Kadri, whose goal gave him 11 points in 11 games, said the key to success on the road is being able to capitalize on scoring chances.
“Sometimes you have to weather the storm,” Kadri said. “It happens, but when you get chances to score, you have to put them in to change momentum.”
Toronto goalie Frederik Andersen made 19 saves to improve his record to 14-7-1.
Michael Stone scored the lone goal of the game for the Flames (13-10-1), who will have a chance to avenge the loss when the teams meet in Toronto on Dec. 6.
“They’re a good team,” Calgary captain Mark Giordano said. “We feel like we are, too. We didn’t obviously play our best tonight, but we’ll get another crack at them in a week.”
Netminder Mike Smith did his best to keep the Flames in the game by stopping 26 of 29 shots he faced.
The Leafs carried the majority of the play in the first period but were continually stymied by Smith, who made a great pad save to deny a great scoring chance by Mitch Marner with 5:20 left.
Marner finished with four shots in the opening period, including two on a power play after the Flames were penalized for too many men on the ice.
Polak opened the scoring at 18:36 of the first with a fluky goal. Although his shot from the point was going wide, it hit Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic in the leg and deflected past a stunned Smith.
“The first one is going 8 feet wide and it hits Hammer and goes in,” Stone said. “That being said, Smitty made some real good saves to keep it scoreless until then, so that comes back to bite you.”
Polak admitted that he got extremely lucky to score his first goal of the season and first in 18 games dating back to March 16.
“I broke my stick on the shot, too, and it was a rolling puck,” Polak said. “It hit one of their (defensemen) and went in. It was a lucky shot.”
The Flames had a great chance to tie things up 6:40 into the second period, but Andersen kicked out his left pad to make a great toe save to deny Matthew Tkachuk’s tip-in of a pass by linemate Michael Frolik.
Zaitsev put the Leafs up 2-0 at 12:36 of the second when he took a pass from Hyman before snapping a shot past Smith that deflected off the stick of Flames forward Mikael Backlund.
The Leafs extended their lead to 3-0 at 1:54 of the third when Kadri wired a shot from the slot past Smith.
“I think he was screened a little bit,” Kadri said. “That’s very important. Any shot he can see clearly he’s going to stop. He’s a big goaltender. A lot of pucks just happen to hit him because his angles are so good.”
Stone then spoiled Andersen’s shutout bid when he blasted a point shot past the Toronto goalie, who was screened by Flames center Mark Jankowski at 5:29 of the third.
Komarov rounded out the scoring with an empty-net goal with 0.9 seconds left.
“We score one goal, on most nights you’re not going to have a chance to win,” Giordano said. “It’s going to be pretty tough. We had our opportunities. I thought they were better tonight.”
NOTES: Flames RW Kris Versteeg missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury, while RW Jaromir Jagr was a late scratch with a similar ailment. ... D Matt Bartkowski was Calgary’s other scratch, meaning that D Brett Kulak drew back into the lineup. ... Toronto scratched D Connor Carrick, RW Nikita Soshnikov and LW Josh Leivo. ... The Maple Leafs continue their three-game road trip on Thursday when they play the Oilers in Edmonton before traveling to Vancouver to take on the Canucks two nights later. ... The Flames will play the second of four straight home games on Thursday when they host the Arizona Coyotes.