The Canadian Press
CALGARY–Back in his home province, Monday was a night to remember for Tyler Ennis.
With his parents in attendance, the Edmonton native scored his first career hat trick to lead the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 6-2 victory over the Calgary Flames.
“I played a lot of games here,” said Ennis, who played four years of junior hockey in Medicine Hat. “Had some rivalries with the [Calgary] Hitmen over the years.
“I’m familiar with this rink.
“To get a hat trick in it with my parents watching, playing for the Leafs, is a real special night for me,” he added.
A scratch in Toronto’s previous game, Ennis drew back in and opened the scoring 9:50 into the first on a power play. He got the puck skating through the low slot and put a backhand into the top corner.
After scoring again late in the first on a fluky carom, the fourth line left-winger completed his big night 3:15 into the third period on a long shot from the sideboards that slipped past David Rittich for his 12th goal.
More than 100 hats were thrown onto the ice by vocal jersey-wearing Leafs’ supporters.
“We’re so lucky to have this fan base,” Ennis said. “To have that many hats on the ice in an away arena is very special.
“It was just a great night.”
It felt like a Toronto home game at times with “Go Leafs go” chants loudly bellowed.
Frederik Andersen, who made 35 saves to win his fifth in a row, was serenaded multiple times by chants of “Freddy, Freddy.”
Andersen was excellent, especially in the second period. Early on, he threw out his trapper to snag Mikael Backlund’s close-in shot.
Then late in the period, he stabbed a dangerous shot off the stick of Johnny Gaudreau.
“It was pretty special. Another example of how great fans of Toronto are,” said Andersen, who improved to 32-13-3.
“They travel well and come with us on the road, too,” he noted. “It’s pretty cool.
“It’s always special to have that.”
Zach Hyman had two goals for Toronto (41-21-4), both set up Mitch Marner, who also had a goal for a three-point night.
Marner has 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in his last four games.
Matthew Tkachuk and Derek Ryan scored for Calgary (41-18-7).
“The last couple games, our whole line in general has been moving the puck very well, getting into the zone,” noted Marner, who leads the Leafs with 81 points (24 goals, 57 assists).
“We’ve been creating each other space,” he said. “[Hyman] has been doing a great job of . . . finding those soft spots.”
The Leafs, who moved to within one point of second-place Boston in the Atlantic Division, continue their three-game Western Canada road trip tomorrow in Vancouver.
The Flames, meanwhile, have dropped two in a row on the heels of a seven-game winning streak.
Their lead atop the Pacific Division remained three points over San Jose.
“They got a lucky bounce on the second one and chasing the game against them is tough, man,” said Flames’ captain Mark Giordano.
“They have a lot of skill over there and they make you pay for little mistakes,” he noted.
But there’s no panic in the Flames room yet.
“We’re still in a good spot,” said Tkachuk. “There’s no need to start freaking out or anything, we’re still first in the West.
“We’re fine,” he reiterated. “We just need to go out and take care of business on this road trip.”
The Flames play in Vegas tomorrow and in Arizona on Thursday.
“We’ve just got to get back to our game,” agreed Backlund, whose giveaway led to the Leafs’ third goal.
“We played really solid, last road trip and on the home stretch before that, defensively, during that winning streak.
“It’s a long season,” he added. “It’s going to go up and down.”
Rittich had 26 stops to fall to 22-6-5. It was just his second regulation loss since mid-December.
He entered the game 11-1-4 in his last 16 decisions.