Coyotes end Leafs’ six-game winning streak
TORONTO -- The Arizona Coyotes have found winning to be so much fun, they keep doing it.
They won for the first time in regulation this season last Thursday against the Montreal Canadiens, and suddenly they are on a three-game winning streak after their 4-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored the go-ahead goal on a power play late in the second period, and the Coyotes added two empty-net goals in the third to end the Maple Leafs’ six-game winning streak.
“We had a game plan,” Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said. “It’s one of those games where we knew we had to play a certain way.”
Arizona (5-15-3) is 7-0-1 in its past eight games at the Air Canada Centre.
“I just think for the last seven, eight games or nine games, we’ve been playing the right way for longer stretches,” Tocchet said. “Guys are staying into the moment of playing the right way. It’s hard to do it for 60 minutes but tonight we did it for the most part.”
The Maple Leafs thought that they tied the game at 16:10 of the third period when Auston Matthews, who grew up in Arizona, fired the puck into the net, but a video review determined that there was goaltender interference, and the goal was disallowed.
”We’ve had two of them the same way, the goal was going in whether he touched him or not because he had time and pushed out,“ Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. ”But, the league decides that and not us. In my opinion, that didn’t affect the outcome of the game. The one-on-one battles affected the outcome of the game and the ready to compete at the start affected the outcome of the game.
“They were better than us. The first 10 minutes they were better. When you don’t start on time and you’re not prepared to go right, you don’t deserve good results. We got what we deserved.”
Brendan Perlini, Max Domi and Tobias Rieder also scored for Arizona, and Antti Raanta made 27 saves. Domi and Rieder’s goals were into an empty net.
”These last three have really been fun,“ Raanta said. ”Every day we learn something new and today we learned how to score empty-netters, so that was a good learning experience.
“The last seven or eight games have been pretty good. There had been a couple of breakdowns about four games ago. Everybody knows what they’re doing, everybody trusts the system. When you get a couple of wins you get your confidence going.”
James van Riemsdyk scored for Toronto (14-8-0), and Frederik Andersen stopped 27 shots.
The Coyotes controlled most of the play in the first 10 minutes of the game. They opened the scoring on the power play when Perlini notched his fifth of the season at 9:53 of the first period. Toronto’s Connor Carrick was serving an interference penalty.
It was the 14th time in their 23 games that the Coyotes scored first, and they ended Andersen’s attempt at a third straight shutout.
“Just plain and simple, sticking to our system, we’ve come together more as a group,” Perlini said. “We’re just feeling it right now.”
The Maple Leafs tied the game on the 11th goal of the season by van Riemsdyk on a power play 33 seconds into the second period. He hammered home the rebound after Nazem Kadri redirected Mitch Marner’s shot.
Arizona’s Kevin Connauton had been penalized for holding at 19:52 of the first.
Ekman-Larsson scored his third goal of the season at 18:17 of the second on a shot from the point five seconds after Marner received a hooking penalty.
The Coyotes played a strong third period, until the Maple Leafs applied pressure near the end and had the goal called back on the goaltender interference.
“I think my stick hits the pad,” Maple Leafs center Zach Hyman said. “Obviously, I think I was pushed in but, I don’t know. I think the goalie had enough time to get across and I thought he got into his position well, but I guess that’s how they’re calling goalie interference so tough break for us.”
Domi scored his second goal of the season at 18:54 of the third, and Rieder scored his fifth at 19:19.
“They move the puck around well,” Hyman said. “Their D are good at getting shots through and they have some elite defensemen. They had a good game.”
NOTES: Coyotes D Niklas Hjalmarsson returned to the lineup Monday for the first time since sustaining an upper-body injury against the Philadelphia Flyers on Oct. 30. He missed 10 games. Arizona assigned D Dakota Mermis to the Tucson Roadrunners of the American Hockey League to make room on the roster for Hjalmarsson, who was activated from the injured-reserve list. ... Toronto G Frederik Andersen allowed his first goal in 141 minutes and 27 seconds when the Coyotes scored in the first period Monday. ... The Maple Leafs will visit the Florida Panthers on Wednesday, and the Coyotes will host the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday.