Leafs carry on home win streak

The Canadian Press
Joshua Clipperton

TORONTO–Curtis McElhinney was doing the usual work of a back-up goalie at the end of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ bench midway through the second period last night.
Moments later, and to almost everyone’s surprise, he was in the middle of the action.
“I’m sitting there [charting] face-offs,” McElhinney recalled. “Next thing you know, they’re handing my gloves to me.”
McElhinney stopped 13-of-15 shots in relief of injured starter Frederik Andersen, including a couple while his team was a killing a penalty in overtime, before Mitch Marner scored the winner in the shootout as Toronto extended its franchise-record home winning streak to 11 games with a wild 6-5 victory over the Dallas Stars.
“The heart rate spikes,” McElhinney said of getting called on without any warning. “It certainly goes up and the adrenaline starts pumping.
“Once the first shot’s taken, you kind of settle in.”
Marner beat Kari Lehtonen in the third round of the shootout after Patrick Marleau had tied things with just 15.2 seconds left in regulation time as the Leafs stormed back from 4-2 and 5-4 deficits over the final 20 minutes.
“It was a strange game,” said McElhinney, who will start tonight in Buffalo.
“Just a nice way to come back and pull it out.”
Andersen skated to the bench during a TV time-out with 9:35 left in the second and headed straight to the locker-room with a upper-body injury.
There was no obvious sign the netminder was hurt and Leafs’ head coach Mike Babcock didn’t seem overly concerned afterwards.
James van Riemsdyk, with his third-career hat trick, and Nazem Kadri had the other goals in regulation for Toronto (41-22-7).
Andersen stopped 17-of-20 shots before exiting.
Tyler Bozak, who also scored in the shootout, and Marner each added two assists as the Leafs improved to 3-2-2 since star centre Auston Matthews went down with a shoulder injury back on Feb. 22.
Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Radek Faska, Remi Elie, and Brett Ritchie all scored for Dallas (38-26-7), which got 28 stops from Lehtonen.
The Stars, who were playing the second of a back-to-back and their third game in four nights, are in a battle for their playoff lives in the Western Conference.
“We came back and won the hockey game about three times, but we ran out of gas,” noted head coach Ken Hitchcock.
“It’s tough. I felt for the players.”
After van Riemsdyk scored twice in the third to knot things at 4-4, Ritchie beat McElhinney at 13:18 for his sixth goal of the season.
But Marleau tied it late in regulation when he tipped home Marner’s shot for his 22nd to send the game to overtime.
“The first two periods, we didn’t get much going,” Marner admitted. “In the third we turned it around.
“Big goals from James.
“‘Mac’ coming in there was a turning point,” Marner added. “He played great for us.”
Toronto had opened the scoring at 4:28 of the first when Kadri took advantage of a horrendous Lehtonen miscue in front to tap home his 27th.
The crowd at Air Canada Centre barely had a chance to get back in their seats before van Riemsdyk made it 2-0 just 25 seconds later when he banged in a rebound off a scramble in front.
“We got the break on the [Kadri] goal, we scored a good goal when James got the second one,” Babcock noted.
“Then they dominated the next 35 minutes–not even close,” he added. “They played great and we didn’t. They were better than us.
“We didn’t handle the forecheck, we didn’t execute, we didn’t make any plays, we didn’t play heavy,” Babcock stressed.
“But I thought we came out in the third period and we dug in.”
Elsewhere in the NHL, Anaheim blanked Vancouver 3-0, San Jose edged Edmonton 4-3 (OT), the N.Y. Rangers nipped Pittsburgh 4-3 (OT), and New Jersey dumped Vegas 8-3.