The Toronto Maple Leafs have relied heavily on Frederik Andersen with their backup goaltender struggles and in the wake of their sub.500 record at the time Mike Babcock was sacked, but after facing 48 shots in a win over Winnipeg on Thursday, the Leafs will go with backup Michael Hutchinson in a non-back-to-back situation for the first time against the New York Islanders on Saturday.
Semyon Varlamov made his fourth straight start on the Islanders goal and made 20 saves.
It was Hutchinson's third-straight win, following a 4-1 victory over Detroit on December 21 and a 5-4 overtime triumph in New Jersey on December 27, both part of Toronto's point streak.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are a fairly good team at home, but the New York Islanders are also a fairly good team on the road.
Hutchinson (2-5-1, 4.03 GAA, .883 save %) has won his last two, but still has a way to go before eliminating the doubts that he can earn points in the games that Andersen does not start that could be the difference between making and missing the playoffs. With 19 goals in 42 games, he's on pace to blow past his career-high of 22 set back in 2016-17.
The Maple Leafs were being outshot 11-0 in the period when Laine notched his 15th goal of the season, but they capitalized on their first two shots of the period. He made a highlight-reel glove save on Josh Bailey in the ninth minute of the period, dropping into the butterfly but snagging the puck out of the air to keep the game scoreless.
Toronto broke the 0-0 tie at the 13:25 mark of the period when Kasperi Kapanen slid the puck through NY defenceman Noah Dobson's legs and then backhanded a pass to Engvall, who was skating into the slot and in a flawless position to shoot on Varlamov.
Matthews made it 2-0 at 16:07 when he chipped Marner's shot in the slot over the shoulder of Varlamov.
Hutchinson's impressive start continued 1:29 into the third period, blocking an Anders Lee wrister, kicking the rebound out with his pad and then smothering it with his glove. That's Barry Trotz for you.
The Leafs led 2-0 after the first period, and each team scored three in the second.
"It's kind of a tough stretch the last five, six games", said Jets right-winger Patrik Laine following Thursday's morning skate. Leon Draisaitl has collected 10 points over the last 10 games for Edmonton. Pop superstar Justin Bieber was in attendance.
Maple Leafs: Host Edmonton on Monday night in the middle game of a three-game homestand.
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Paris police shoot man who attacked passers-by with knife
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