Andersen stops 31 shots as the surging Hurricanes defeat the Leafs 2-1

Brady Skjei and Sebastian Aho scored goals as the surging Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 on Sunday night for their sixth win in seven games.

Frederik Andersen made 31 saves and picked up his sixth straight win since returning from injury March 7 as the Hurricanes picked up points in their seventh straight game. Carolina lost to Washington on Friday night.

Nicholas Robertson scored a goal and Joseph Woll stopped 41 shots for Toronto, which earned a 6-3 home win over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday, ending its two-game winning streak.

“Overall it was a great performance,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “We had lots of opportunities. They had theirs. For a low-scoring game, there were a few chances.”

The Maple Leafs had a late power play after a Brent Burns tripping penalty and pulled Woll for an extra fielder, but were unable to score. Toronto finished 0-4 on the power play.

Andersen has helped Carolina’s protégé overtake the New York Rangers in the race for top spot in the Metropolitan Division. Andersen missed four months due to a blood clotting disorder. Since his return, he has stopped 154 of 162 shots and allowed two or fewer goals in each of his six starts.

“When you’re out for that long, I don’t care what position you play, there’s going to be some rust, but he certainly doesn’t look it,” Brind’Amour said.

Aho said the team trusts Andersen, its No. 1 goalie, but doesn’t know what to expect after a long layoff because of the serious health issue.

“Everyone was a little nervous about him,” Aho said. “He looks very calm as always. It’s huge for us. He is one of the best goalkeepers in the world and we are lucky to have him.”

Skjei needed just 66 seconds in the first period to get the Hurricanes on the scoreboard. His shot from the point went through three Toronto players, under Woll’s glove and into the net. Jordan Staal and Jordan Martinook assisted.

Aho scored on the power play at 13:55 of the first to make it 2-0. His wrist shot from the left circle bounced off the skate of Toronto defenseman Jake McCabe. Jake Guentzel and Burns picked up assists.

Aho had a hat trick in Friday’s 7-6 shootout loss to the Capitals. He leads Carolina with 31 goals.

Carolina nearly scored two more goals in the first period. Woll saved a penalty from Guentzel at 9:41, and two minutes later a shot from Martin Necas bounced off the post.

“We were ready to go and had a good lead, and I thought we could have increased it,” Andersen said. “(Woll) played really well down there, holding them and obviously giving them a chance.

Andersen showed his best performance in the second period against his former team. At 6:14, he stopped Toronto star Auston Matthews at point-blank range.

A failed clearance attempt by Andersen led to a prime chance for Matthews from the right circle, but Andersen managed to get his glove to shoot.

Timothy Liljegren had a chance on Toronto’s power play at the end of the second period, but Andersen was able to save it.

Robertson cut Carolina’s lead to 2-1 with 8:51 left in the third period. He scored on a pass from Matthews from the slot and beat Andersen.


Maple Leafs: Host the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday.

Hurricanes: Visit the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday.

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