TORONTO (AP) — David Rittich made 34 saves for his first shutout of the season and fourth of his career as the Calgary Flames beat NHL-leading Toronto 3-0 on Monday night.
Rittich’s celebration at the final buzzer could be heard throughout an empty Scotiabank Arena.
“I was just happy,” Rittich said of his howl. “Huge win. We needed something like that.”
Matthew Tkachuk and Sean Monahan each had a goal and an assist, and Sam Bennett added a goal for Calgary.
Rasmus Andersson added two assists for the Flames, who had lost four of five in regulation and had been outscored 14-3 in three straight losses, including a 7-1 decision to Edmonton on Saturday.
“You can’t always control how you lose,” Flames head coach Geoff Ward said. “You can prepare to win again, and your response to something like we saw the other night was important.
“We had a good response.”
Michael Hutchinson stopped 30 shots in a surprise start for Toronto (14-4-2).
Both teams announced just before the game that they would be without their No. 1 goalies. Frederik Andersen sat out for the Leafs with a lower-body injury. Jacob Markstrom, who was pulled in his last two starts, didn’t dress for the Flames because of an upper-body ailment.
Toronto, which was looking to secure its best start in franchise history through 20 games and entered play atop the North Division and NHL standings, hosts Calgary again Wednesday back at Scotiabank Arena.
“It was clear that the other team had a little more urgency,” Toronto head coach Sheldon Keefe said. ”(I) thought our team played like one that was expecting things to go bad.
“This is our 20th game of the season, so I think we’ve shown that this is not us.”
Auston Matthews, who leads the NHL with 18 goals, had his 16-game point streak halted two short of the franchise record held by Darryl Sittler and Ed Olczyk.
Minus forwards Joe Thornton and Zach Hyman due to injury, Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe loaded up his first line with the struggling John Tavares joining Matthews and Mitch Marner. But the Maple Leafs looked out of sorts from the get-go.
Down 1-0 through 20 minutes, Toronto had three great chances to tie the game on the penalty kill in the second period, but Rittich stopped Ilya Mikheyev on two breakaways and Jason Spezza on a 2-on-1 rush.
Calgary eventually struck on the power play after Mikheyev’s second miss when Tkachuk tipped Mark Giordano’s point shot past Hutchinson at 9:28 for his sixth goal of the season and the 100th of his NHL career.
Monahan, who returned after missing two games with a lower-body injury, banged home his third on a Calgary power play at 3:26 to make it 3-0.
Calgary went up 1-0 at 3:55 of the first when Andersson’s point shot hit the stick of Tavares before trickling through Hutchinson, allowing Bennett to tap over the line for his third.
NOTES: Thornton and Hyman are listed as day-to-day. … Following the rematch in Toronto on Wednesday, the Flames play four in a row against the Ottawa Senators starting Thursday. … The Leafs open a five-game trip Saturday in Edmonton, with the first of three against Oilers before two versus the Vancouver Canucks.
The Flames and Maple Leafs complete a two-game set Wednesday night in Toronto.
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