Matthews’ goal in overtime ends in goalkeeper duel with Flames

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Sheldon Keefe can see the future.


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For the Maple Leafs coach, what he said Friday morning came true that same night at Scotiabank Arena.

The Calgary Flames came to Toronto after losing four of their previous five games, but hours before the annual Hall of Fame game, Keefe shrugged off recent visitor woes.

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“Regardless of whether they win or lose, they are playing very well as a team,” Keefe said. “They are a deep team that plays structured. The offense is difficult to achieve, you have to defend very well and hope it will be a game with few touchdowns ”.

What was it.

Of course, your best players have to overcome that sort of thing, and Auston Matthews did exactly that at 2:32 into overtime.

The Matthews snapshot eluded Flames goalkeeper Dan Vladar and gave the home team a 2-1 victory. The game’s winner, Matthews’ second of the season, came after Vladar turned him down on a breakaway early in the extra period.


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“Keep shooting,” Matthews said. “I know it will come in eventually. It felt good, sure. “

The victory followed an impressive shutout by the Leafs in Philadelphia on Wednesday. Toronto has won seven of its last eight, after losing four in a row, heading to Buffalo to face the Sabers on Saturday night, but Keefe wants more.

“It’s really important to all of our players, since we’ve been through this, (winning) seven of the last eight, we’re not even close to being satisfied here,” Keefe said. “All of our guys have improved and our team has been better.”

The Leafs appeared to be on track to be eliminated for the first time this season when Ondrej Kase threw a William Nylander shot that passed Vladar at 12:54 of the third, tying the game 1-1. The goal was Kase’s third of the season and his second in as many games.


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Flames defender Oliver Kylington had scored at 4:55 of the third, ending an odd run with a backhand move on Jack Campbell.

The Leafs looked good on Vladar, but, as Keefe surmised could happen, they didn’t enjoy long periods of sustained pressure.

Still, the way the Leafs won would have made the short trip across the border more enjoyable. The group didn’t get frustrated throughout the game against a well-structured Flames team, and certainly not after Kylington scored.

“With every win, you can learn something and you have to find different ways to win,” said captain John Tavares, who returned to the lineup after missing out on the Flyers with a lower body injury.

“It’s nice to have the perfect script every night, but it’s not always like this. And sometimes, it’s like one of these. You play against a team that played (Thursday) at night (Calgary lost in Montreal).


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“You want to face them early, you want to try to get an advantage and make it difficult for them. But they stay, they start to feel better about their game and they defend well. They end up getting the first goal they want and we have half time to get it back, so you have to stay with it.

“And when you fight for that, and it’s a challenge and not only do you draw it, but you find a way to get the win, that builds confidence and a lot of faith in the group.”

Campbell finished with 30 saves, while Vladar made 35 saves.

The Leafs failed to score in all three of their power games, coming up short after going 7-of-15 in the previous six games with a man advantage.

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The power play has been in sync, but not on Friday night. The zone innings weren’t great, and once the Leafs got established in the offensive zone, Calgary did enough to be disruptive.

Keefe confirmed after the game that Joseph Woll will make his NHL debut in Buffalo, starting in the Leafs network. Woll was the Leafs’ third-round pick in 2016.

“The most important thing as an organization is that we really believe in him and we believe in his talent,” Keefe said.

“He’s played well during camp, he’s worked really hard, he’s coming out, it’s been a while, but he’s coming off an outstanding start with the Marlies.

“I told him three or four days ago, so he has had more than enough opportunity to prepare. It’s a great night for him. “

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