ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Randy Carlyle acknowledged the standing ovation with a brief wave of his hand, thanking the Anaheim fans in his usual understated manner for their appreciation of his tenure behind the Ducks’ bench.
Carlyle was even more grateful to leave Honda Center with yet another win for his surging Toronto Maple Leafs.
Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak each had a goal and two assists, and the Maple Leafs celebrated Carlyle’s return with a 3-1 victory over the Ducks on Monday night.
”It’s always satisfaction when you beat your former hockey club,” Carlyle said. ”I’m not going to hide that fact. I feel good about it.”
Paul Ranger scored and Jonathan Bernier made 43 saves as Toronto opened a five-game trip with its third consecutive victory, leapfrogging Montreal into second place in the Atlantic Division.
Carlyle was back in Anaheim for the first time since the Ducks fired the only coach to lead the franchise to a Stanley Cup title. He was greeted warmly in the first period during a video tribute on the scoreboard.
”It was kind of touching,” Carlyle said. ”I didn’t really know what to expect. I’m very appreciative and thankful for the people that supported me in my time here, and my family. It’s a very special place, and as I’ve said, we’re moving back into the area at some point in our life.”
His Leafs then forced the Ducks to play almost as poorly as they were playing when he got fired.
Bernier didn’t have to make many tough saves despite his gaudy stats for the Leafs, who are ramping up for their second trip to the postseason under Carlyle, earning points in 10 of their past 12 games.
”I think he was pretty excited,” Bozak said of his coach. ”He might have been a little more nervous for this one, but we’re glad we could get it for him.”
Carlyle won a club-record 273 games and made the playoffs five times in his six full seasons with the Ducks, but was fired in November 2011 with Anaheim off to a miserable start.
The Ducks have done exceptionally well since the change to Bruce Boudreau, who won 100 games faster than any coach in franchise history and led Anaheim to last season’s Pacific Division title.
Corey Perry scored his 35th goal and Frederik Andersen stopped 20 shots in the Ducks’ third straight loss to playoff-bound Eastern Conference teams.
”We’re in a funk,” Boudreau said. ”And we’ve just got to get out of it before too long, and do what we do. We’ve just got to get back on our horse.”
Before this loss to end a five-game homestand, Anaheim fell one point behind streaking St. Louis in the overall NHL standings with consecutive shootout losses to Montreal and Pittsburgh.
The Ducks hadn’t lost in regulation since before the Olympic break, but they couldn’t generate many serious scoring chances against Bernier and the Leafs’ shot-blocking defense.
”We should have had more guys in front to make screens, tips, and get in the dirty areas,” Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin said.
”Right now we’re struggling to score goals because we’re not going to the front of the net and winning those battles and getting those tough goals.”
Toronto took the lead during 4-on-3 play late in the first period when Bozak redirected a pass from captain Dion Phaneuf. Kessel then roared past two Ducks defensemen and got a fortunate bounce off Andersen’s stick for his 34th goal.
Kessel, the NHL’s second-leading scorer after breaking his tie with Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, also snapped his first three-game goal drought since early January.
Early in the second period, an atrocious Ducks breakdown led to Ranger’s goals.
The Ducks broke through at the end of a dominant shift by their top line late in the second, with Perry banging home a puck on the doorstep for his fifth goal in five games since the break.
Anaheim went scoreless on four power plays, dropping into an 0-for-19 slump since the break.
NOTES: Carlyle isn’t the only former Anaheim resident who returned with the Leafs: Joffrey Lupul, Peter Holland and Troy Bodie all played for the Ducks, while defenseman Jake Gardiner was a top Anaheim prospect before the club traded him along with Lupul for Beauchemin in February 2011. … Anaheim C Mathieu Perreault missed his fourth straight game with an upper-body injury. Boudreau expects him to return Wednesday in Calgary. … The Ducks are 4-6-2 at home since their 20-0-2 start to the season.