Rittich Stonewalls Leafs in Flames Shootout Victory
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Friday, January 17, 2020
Calgary Flames goaltender David Rittich turned in one of the best performances in the NHL this season making 35 saves -- many of them spectacular -- to lead the Calgary Flames past the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 in a shootout Thursday night at Scotiabank Arena.
The frustration clearly showed in the Leafs as Rittich repeatedly foiled the blue and white on numerous scoring chances.
After a scoreless first period, the Leafs looked to grab the lead just two minutes into the second, but Mitch Marner’s wraparound attempt was turned away by Rittich. Later in the period, strong back checking by Leafs center Alex Kerfoot created a turnover and a three-on-one opportunity for Toronto. Kerfoot set up Kasperi Kapanen in the slot but his wrist shot was stopped by Rittich, who then shot across the crease to make a huge glove save on Andreas Johnsson’s rebound attempt just off the side of the Flames net. Just over a minute later with the Flames pressing in the Leafs’ end, Toronto forward Zach Hyman failed to move the puck along the side boards. Flames forward Dillon Dube jumped on the loose puck and teed up defenseman Travis Hamonic, whose point shot was deflected by forward Derek Ryan past Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen to give the Flames a 1-0 lead.
The Leafs finally solved Rittich 8:34 into the third period on the power play, John Tavares breaking in from the left point and sending a perfect pass from inside the face-off circle to William Nylander, who was parked in front of Rittich. Nylander redirected the puck past Rittich to tie the game 1-1. It was Nylander’s 21st goal of the season.
Nylander came back just over a minute later, deking past Flames defenseman Oliver Kylington and breaking in alone on Rittich but was turned away by the Flames netminder. The Leafs swarmed the Flames end late in the period but could not beat Rittich, who made a game-saving blocker save on Auston Matthews with just over five minutes left.
Both teams had excellent chances in the three-on-three overtime period. Andersen stopped Flames forward Elias Lindholm’s point blank wrist shot just twelve seconds in and Rittich made another big save on Kasperi Kapanen on the doorstep after taking a cross ice pass from defenseman Justin Holl.
Matthew Tkachuk was the lone goal scorer in the shootout to give the Flames the victory. It was a tough loss for Andersen who stopped 30 of 31 Flames shots and made several key saves of his own to give the Leafs a chance to win.
It was the sixth win in the last seven games for the Flames who sit tied with the Arizona Coyotes atop the Pacific Division and fourth in the Western Conference. With the shootout loss, the Leafs find themselves in sixth place in the tightly bunched Eastern Conference. Next action for the Leafs is Saturday when they take on the visiting Chicago Blackhawks.