Toronto tops Ducks, ties team mark for consecutive road wins
Michael Bunting, Alexander Kerfoot and William Nylander each had a goal and an assist, and the Toronto Maple Leafs completed the most successful month in franchise history by beating the Anaheim Ducks 5-1 on Sunday night.
The Maple Leafs went 12-2-0 this month, becoming the eighth NHL team to win 12 games in November. Toronto also tied a franchise record with its seventh straight road victory.
Toronto also had seven straight road wins in 1940-41, 1960-61 and 2002-03.
“The mood in the room is upbeat, everyone’s happy, so it’s really fun to be a part of,” Bunting said. “I think the confidence level is good. Everyone’s contributing now.”
Auston Matthews scored for the third consecutive game, Wayne Simmonds had a goal, and Jack Campbell made 39 saves for the Maple Leafs.
Toronto has not lost away from home since dropping its first three road games. The Maple Leafs swept a four-game trip that started against the New York Islanders and ended by outscoring the three California teams 15-4.
“Lots of energy coming to the rink every day, and we’re playing good hockey, so we just got to keep it up,” Campbell said. “We’ve talked all year about being consistent, and it’s a long, long haul, the 82-game season, so trying not to get too high but also enjoying the good run that we’re on right now.”
Hampus Lindholm scored and John Gibson made 26 saves for the Ducks. Anaheim has lost four of five following an eight-game win streak.
“That’s an elite scoring team,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said. “You cannot turn the puck over, you can’t, not even once. Because if you do, it may cost you. It cost us twice, the first two goals came off turnovers. Can’t have a bad change. We had one. Bang, it got us.”
Matthews tipped in T.J. Brodie’s shot at 7:48 of the second to put the Maple Leafs in front, and Bunting made it 2-0 with 8:57 left in the period, burying a one-timer into an open net. Jake Muzzin’s long pass from his own zone to Mitchell Marner sparked a 3-on-1 rush, which ended with Bunting’s sixth goal of the season.
Bunting has two goals and four assists during a four-game point streak.
Kerfoot scored 13 seconds into the third for the three-goal cushion, but Lindholm jammed in a rebound from close range to cut the deficit to 3-1 at 7:26, with Ryan Getzlaf picking up his 19th assist. The Ducks piled on the pressure, but Campbell made the necessary saves to quash their momentum.
Nylander got an empty-netter with 3:07 remaining to make it 4-1, and Simmonds beat Gibson 15 seconds later for the 5-1 final.
“I think we responded pretty well,” Lindholm said. “I think we had some really good solid chances in the third, even after the goal. There’s definitely chances, but if you leave it to only have 10, 15 minutes in the third to win the hockey game against a really good team, you’re not really giving yourself that good of a chance.”
NOTHING FOR GRANTED
After seeing their exemplary regular season during the abbreviated 2020-21 season erased by a shocking first-round playoff exit to Montreal, Toronto understands that sustained success now means little if it doesn’t create habits to perform in the postseason.
“It’s been a great November. You know, calendar’s gonna turn here. We’re gonna get back home after a long trip and all of that, and have a really good team waiting for us, so we just got to focus on every single day and that’s what we'll do,” coach Sheldon Keefe said of the squad's upcoming game against Colorado.
NOTES: Matthews has three goals and one assist during a three-game point streak. ... F Kyle Clifford started his second stint with Toronto after being acquired in a trade from St. Louis on Nov. 16. Clifford had one goal and two assists in 16 games with the Maple Leafs in 2019-20. … Maple Leafs F Jason Spezza played in his 1,200th career game. … Toronto F Ondrej Kase missed his second straight game because of an upper-body injury.
Maple Leafs: Host Colorado on Wednesday.
Ducks: Visit Los Angeles on Tuesday.
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This story originally appeared in San Diego Union-Tribune .