McElhinney makes 41 saves, Maple Leafs beat Oilers 1-0

Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Curtis McElhinney (35) makes a save against Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) during second-period NHL hockey game action in Toronto, Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)

TORONTO (AP) Being a backup goalie isn’t easy. Toronto’s Curtis McElhinney thinks he’s figured it out.

One night after starter Frederik Andersen beat Pittsburgh on the road, McElhinney stopped 41 shots in the Maple Leafs’ 1-0 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday night.

The 34-year-old McElhinney was making just his fifth start of the season, with Andersen leading the NHL in minutes played.

”The back-to-backs are always tough. Sometimes there’s no morning skate so you’re kind of left to your own,” McElhinney said. ”I got a good skate in this morning by myself and things felt pretty good overall. Having been here almost a year now I’m pretty familiar with it. I kind of have the hang of it, I think.”

Zach Hyman scored in the first minute for the Maple Leafs. Toronto improved to 20-10-1 to move within three points of Tampa Bay for the Eastern Conference lead.

”I thought our goaltender was really good, our penalty killing was outstanding and, in the end, we spent too much time in our own zone,” coach Mike Babcock said. ”But, it’s a big night on a back-to-back and a big win for us.”

Laurent Brossoit made 22 saves for the Oilers. They were coming off a 6-2 victory in Montreal on Saturday night.

”We played a lot of games this season and haven’t been able to string them back to back,” Oilers coach Todd McLellan said. ”This was a solid, solid effort on our behalf. We didn’t win, obviously that’s the most obvious thing, but we’re happy with our game.”

It took Toronto only 34 seconds to take the lead. Jake Gardiner’s point shot made its way through traffic and was tipped by Hyman past Brossoit on the first shift. Gardiner was originally credited with the goal before it was switched to Hyman’s sixth of the season.

NOTES: Toronto star forward Auston Matthews missed the game because of an upper-body injury. Josh Leivo took his spot in the lineup. … Toronto FC was honored before the game for winning the MLS Cup on Saturday.

UP NEXT

Oilers: At Columbus on Tuesday night.

Maple Leafs: At Philadelphia on Tuesday night.

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