Fowler lifts Ducks over Leafs in Carlyle’s Toronto return (Dec 19, 2016)

Anaheim Ducks defenceman Cam Fowler (4) celebrates his power play goal with teammate defenceman Sami Vatanen (45) during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Toronto, Monday, Dec. 19, 2016. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)

TORONTO (AP) Ducks coach Randy Carlyle wasn’t exactly sentimental after winning his first game back in Toronto.

Cam Fowler scored a power-play goal in the third period, lifting Anaheim over the Maple Leafs 3-2 on Monday night. Carlyle was at Air Canada Centre for the first time since he was dismissed as Leafs coach almost two years ago.

”I think a lot of people have made a bigger deal out of it (than I have),” Carlyle said. ”From a personal standpoint, yeah it’s nice, but the bottom line is our hockey club needed the win more than I needed the win and that’s really why we’re here.”

Carlyle coached almost 200 regular season games for Toronto, leading the club to its only playoff appearance since 2004. He was fired in January 2015 with the team sliding.

After sitting out last season, Carlyle returned to coach the Ducks for a second time this past summer.

Despite his assertions otherwise, players in the Ducks dressing room believed the win had extra meaning for him.

”We’re all a family in here so we know what it means to him,” captain Ryan Getzlaf said. ”There’s always a little bit of an edge that you want to win that game.”

Anaheim had a pair of power-play goals, including Fowler’s go-ahead score. Ryan Getzlaf had the other man-up tally, and Nick Ritchie also scored for the Ducks. John Gibson made 33 saves.

Former Ducks goaltender Frederik Andersen made 25 stops for the Leafs. Auston Matthews got his ninth goal in 12 games, and Nazem Kadri scored his 11th of the season.

Toronto went ahead in the first period when Zach Hyman helped free the puck loose from Getzlaf along the wall. Nikita Zaitsev’s point shot was then redirected by Matthews with one hand on his stick.

It was Matthews’s team-leading 15th goal of the year. He sits second among NHL rookies in goals (15) and points (24), trailing only Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine.

”I thought he was our best player,” Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. ”I thought he was really good.”

Andersen was sharp facing his former team for the first time since a summer trade from Anaheim. He made a right pad stop on Rickard Rakell’s redirection in the opening moments of the second, then came up with two stops on a Ducks rush later in the period. He later shut down a break for Getzlaf and Corey Perry, setting himself square to Perry’s chance from in tight.

Getzlaf tied it at 1 with less than two minutes to go in the middle frame. It was an awkward power-play goal, his shot caroming off the legs of Leafs defenders Morgan Rielly and Roman Polak in front before beating Andersen.

The Ducks went ahead after barely one minute had gone by in the third. The play started when William Nylander turned the puck over trying to make a move around an Anaheim player at his own blue-line. Ondrej Case eventually set up Ritchie in front for his eighth goal of the year.

Toronto had an opportunity to tie it on a power play shortly after, but Gibson came up big when required. He made an emphatic glove stop of Kadri and then got in front of Matthews’s one-time attempt in the slot.

It was a strange shot that ultimately beat Gibson and evened the score at two, with Kadri whipping a shot from the point that banged off the leg of former Leaf Korbinian Holzer in front.

Fowler put the Ducks back in front with less than seven minutes left in the third. Ryan Kesler won the faceoff, setting up Fowler for the one-time shot.

NOTES: Toronto went 0 for 3 with the power play. … Toronto pulled Andersen with just under three minutes left in regulation, but could not tie the game.

UP NEXT

Ducks: Play at Montreal on Tuesday night.

Maple Leafs: Play at Colorado on Thursday night.