Tkachuk's SO goal lifts Flames past Maple Leafs 2-1

January 17, 2020

TORONTO (AP) — David Rittich let out a sigh as he briefly took a seat in Calgary's empty locker room.

The Flames' all-star goalie had certainly earned the rest.

Rittich made 35 saves in regulation and overtime before stopping all three Maple Leafs in the shootout as Calgary downed Toronto 2-1.

"It was a hard game," he said. "I'm kind of tired right now. Can't wait to (get on the) airplane.

“It wasn't easy.”

Matthew Tkachuk scored the only goal of the shootout, and Derek Ryan scored in regulation for Calgary.

"You want to reward him," Tkachuk said of Rittich. "You want to do everything in your power to win the game for him. He was our best player tonight, easily."

After denying Kasperi Kapanen on two OT chances, Rittich stopped Jason Spezza, Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner in the shootout.

He also robbed Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson with big saves in the middle period before getting to a good effort by Matthews on a 2-on-1 in the third.

So, did he have a favorite stop?

"I don't know," Rittich deadpanned. “Ask my groin.”

William Nylander tied it in the third period for Toronto. Frederik Andersen, who had given up 14 goals over his last four starts, stopped 31 shots.

"It was a pretty even game," Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “That's a big point for us.”

With his mouthguard dangling from his lips and boos raining down from the crowd, Tkachuk beat Andersen between the pads on Calgary's second attempt in the shootout.

"I hoped he watched the pre-scout on Andersen," Rittich said of what he was thinking as the star winger moved in on goal. “And I was like, 'Finally, someone shoots to five-hole.' I was glad he did it.”

Down 1-0 through two periods, the Leafs tied it on their fourth power play of the night when John Tavares found Nylander, who had gained position at the lip of Rittich's crease on Noah Hanifin, to tip home his 21st at 8:35.

After Calgary couldn't connect with the man advantage with under eight minutes to go, Rittich robbed Matthews — the Flames are the only NHL team the center has failed to register a goal against in his career — on a 2-on-1 to keep things even.

Ryan opened the scoring at 7:34 of the second when he redirected Travis Hamonic's point shot for his ninth.

Toronto came close later in the period when Rittich made a nice save on Nylander's tip of Travis Dermott's drive.

The Calgary goaltender, named to his first NHL All-Star game Tuesday as an injury replacement for Arizona's Darcy Kuemper, was at it again with a pad stop on Kapanen off the rush before stretching to deny Andreas Johnsson on the rebound.

"Our goaltending was excellent," Flames coach Geoff Ward said. “We stayed with it and found a way at the end.”

Andersen, who's also going to the all-star game in St. Louis, denied Mikael Backlund with the glove at the other end to keep his team within one through 40 minutes.

NOTES: Toronto played its second game without star defenseman Morgan Rielly, who joined fellow top-4 blue-liner Jake Muzzin on the shelf this week with a broken foot that's expected to keep him out until at least March 10. ... Tkachuk, who has been going back and forth with Edmonton Oilers forward Zack Kassian since Saturday's game, declined to take things further following Thursday's morning skate. Kassian was suspended two games by the NHL for jumping Tkachuk after the latter rocked him with two crunching body check over the weekend. The NHL saw no issue with either hit, but Kassian called the contact "predatory," adding that he has "a long memory." Tkachuk wouldn't bite when asked about the comments in Toronto. "We're not talking about them right now," Tkachuk said of the Oilers. The teams play again on Jan. 29 — the first night Kassian is eligible to return to Edmonton.


Flames: at Ottawa on Saturday.

Maple Leafs: host Chicago on Saturday.


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