TORONTO — Erik Kallgren made 34 saves in his second straight start, and the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 at Scotiabank Arena on Thursday.
Kallgren made 35 saves in his first NHL start, a 4-0 win against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday.
“That we won the game (was the best part),” Kallgren said.
“I think a little bit more bad rebounds today, but other than that, pretty similar (to Tuesday).”
Ilya Mikheyev, Mitchell Marner and Ondrej Kase scored for the Maple Leafs (39-17-5), who are 4-1-1 in their past six games.
“I know last game [Kallgren] had a shutout, but I think like this game he played unbelievable,” Kase said. “I think this game was so much harder for him.
“It was physical. Carolina is a great team, and there’s not so much space on the ice.”
Video: CAR@TOR: Kallgren stymies Skjei with left pad
Ethan Bear and Vincent Trocheck scored, and Frederik Andersen made 18 saves for the Hurricanes (41-14-5), who have lost two in a row after winning four straight.
“I thought we played hard. We always play hard, which is good, but we have to capitalize on our chances, which we didn’t, and that magnifies the mistakes you make,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “You’re going to make mistakes, but give them credit, they capitalized and obviously got the win out of it.”
Mikheyev put Toronto ahead 1-0 at 15: 48 of the first period when he caught Andersen leaning and scored from a sharp angle with a backhand on a rush.
The Hurricanes outshot the Maple Leafs 14-6 in the first period.
“That [stinks], obviously. Toronto is a good team, and obviously they have a lot of skill and they’re a fast team, so when you get behind, it’s tough to claw out of these games,” Bear said. “It’s just tough. You always want to get that first goal.”
Kallgren kept Toronto ahead when made a sprawling left pad save on Brady Skjei 20 seconds into the second period.
“It was a situation in front of the net and he was kind of all by himself, so I just tried to stick my left pad out there and I got lucky and saved it,” Kallgren said.
Marner then made it 2-0 at 4: 39 when he cut in down the right wing and shot under Andersen’s right pad on a 2-on-1.
“There was that one big chance in the second where he kicked his leg out. Those are game-changing or saving type of saves,” Keefe said. “They make a major difference where they allow our team to find themselves and get going, so [Kallgren] was terrific.”
Video: CAR@TOR: Marner wires home low wrist shot into twine
Bear cut it to 2-1 at 4: 09 of the third period. Jesper Fast‘s initial shot was blocked by Ilya Lyubushkin, but Bear got to the loose puck and quickly shot five-hole on Kallgren.
The goal ended Kallgren’s shutout streak at 104: 09.
“It’s been one of the most eventful weeks of my life so, there’s been a lot going on,” said Kallgren, who was recalled from Toronto of the American Hockey League on March. 10. “It’s surreal, but I’m just trying to enjoy it.”
Kase responded for the Maple Leafs to make it 3-1 at 7: 20, converting a one-timer off a saucer pass from William Nylander on a 2-on-1.
“[Nylander] is a super skilled guy, so I was actually ready for it, like he would pass it,” Kase said.
Trocheck put in a loose puck at the side of the net with 3.6 seconds remaining for the 3-2 final.
“I think there’s a lot of similarities in the way these two teams play,” Trocheck said. “Our systems are very similar, both (teams) played really hard. I think it was a matter of those couple mistakes on very simple plays we know and practice all the time, just executing those.”
The Maple Leafs played without center Auston Matthews, who was serving the second of a two-game suspension for cross-checking Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin at the 2022 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic.
NOTES: Hurricanes defenseman Brendan Smith returned to the lineup after missing 10 games because of a fracture in his skull. He had three hits and two blocks in 12: 28 of ice time. … Hurricanes forward Jordan Martinook left the game in the third period because of an undisclosed injury. Brind’Amour did not have an update on his status after the game.
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