The Toronto Maple Leafs sprinted out of the gate this season thanks to their deep offense and bring a six-game winning streak into Monday’s contest against the visiting Arizona Coyotes with their defense taking the lead. The Maple Leafs have allowed just eight goals during their longest run in three years as Frederik Andersen has posted back-to-back shutouts.
“I think I’m being aggressive on the puck,” Andersen told reporters. “I think I’ve talked about it a little lately, that I’m trying to challenge the shooter a little bit more, and obviously, we’ve been playing really well, too. We’ve taken a big step since the road trip on the West Coast (1-3-0).” Toronto also has reigning Calder Trophy winner Auston Matthews back in the lineup after he missed four games with an upper-body injury, and the 20-year-old center scored twice in Saturday’s 6-0 win over Montreal. The Coyotes are enjoying their first winning streak of the season as they posted a 5-4 triumph at Montreal on Thursday and a 3-2 overtime victory at Ottawa two days later. “We had a good meeting after (Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to) Winnipeg,” Arizona coach Rick Tocchet, whose team lost five straight prior to the back-to-back wins, told reporters. “It wasn’t a pretty meeting, but we had some guys who said some really good stuff for us. I think it kind of just helped us refocus on what’s important and how to win in this league. It’s obviously helped the last couple of games.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FSN Arizona, Sportsnet Ontario (Toronto)
ABOUT THE COYOTES (4-15-3): Anthony Duclair, often a healthy scratch this season, recorded his first NHL hat trick on Saturday to move into second place on the team with six goals. “It’s always tough to be in and out of the lineup,” Duclair told reporters. “At the same time, it starts in practice. It starts with preparation. You want to do your best every night to help the team win. You have to keep a positive attitude. That’s the main key.” Clayton Keller, who is the front-runner for this season’s Calder Trophy, has recorded a team-high 11 goals but has not scored in the last six games.
ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS (14-7-0): Matthews, who grew up in Arizona and is slated to play in his 100th NHL game on Monday, pushed his totals to 12 goals and 21 points in 17 contests - taking the team lead in both categories. Toronto was second in the league in scoring (3.71 goals per game) through Saturday as it has 11 players in double figures in points and three in goals - including Nazem Kadri and James van Riemsdyk (10 each). Defenseman Morgan Rielly continues to produce with six points in his last six games to rank third on the team with 17.
1. Toronto C Mitch Marner has recorded three multi-point performances in his last four contests after notching two assists on Saturday.
2. Arizona has gone 11-for-11 on the penalty kill over its last three games and has scored three power-play goals in its last two contests.
3. The Coyotes are 5-1-0 in the last six meetings, but the Maple Leafs posted a 4-1 victory at Arizona in the last encounter in December.
PREDICTION: Maple Leafs 5, Coyotes 2