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Matthews leads Tavares Maple Leafs to a 4-2 victory over Flames

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CALGARY, Alberta (AP) Auston Matthews and John Tavares each had a goal and an assist, and the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Calgary Flames 4-2 Sunday night.

Morgan Rielly and Alex Galchenyuk also scored for the Maple Leafs, who are 6-3-1 in their last 10 and still top the NHLs North Division. Michael Hutchinson made 32 saves.

It was definitely not our best, I think we looked a little sluggish at times, Tavares said. We defended really well and I thought we played a faster game in the third, which I think would allow us to take control. There will be nights, you don’t have your best, but you have to work and compete and find ways to get your game going. I think we did.

Joakim Nordstrom and Andrew Mangiapane have scored for the Flames, who are 2-8-0 in their last 10 and 5-8-0 since Darryl Sutter took over as head coach. David Rittich stopped 26 shots in the first of back-to-back games between the division’s rivals.

To keep up, the team has to play at a pace, Sutter said. You have to be able to execute at that rate and control at that rate. This is difficult for some of our players.

Toronto has won five of the seven meetings between the teams this season. The Flames will host the Maple Leafs again on Monday.

Calgary is behind the Montreal Canadiens, holding the fourth and final playoff spot in the division by six points.

Toronto scored twice in the third period. The Leafs led 3-2 for their own goal by the Flames attributed to Tavares at 6:55 AM.

Rittich initially saved on William Nylander and Tavares, but the rebound went from Noah Hanifins’ skate to the Calgary net. Hanifin waved his stick in frustration and broke it over the Calgary post.

There’s a reason why (the Leafs) are where they are, said Flames captain Mark Giordano. And you could see they came out with the mindset of winning the game in the third. We need to have the same mindset when games are tied or when you’re down, whatever the case, you need to have that confidence.

Matthews made it 4-2 at 9:16 with his 25th place in the league from close range. From the goal line, Mitch Marner transitioned to his linemate and drifted it just in front of the insurance goal.

We obviously weren’t very good for 40 minutes, but we were in a game, said Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe. A big goal there late in the second. The way it worked we really had to find a way to get better for 20 and when we did we liked our chance to get points here tonight. I really liked our third.

When the Flames were unable to get out of their own zone cleanly, Rielly took advantage of a turnover and scored on Toronto’s first shot at 58 seconds net after the puck dropped. The defender skated the puck to the distant face-off circle, beating Rittich with a wrist shot over the left shoulder of the Calgary goalkeeper.

The Flames tied 1-1 on Nordstrom’s goal at 12:43 when he tapped Mark Giordanos slap up on Hutchinson for his first goal as a Flame.

Mangiapane put up the Flames 2-1 with 39 seconds remaining in the opening period. He pulled Mikael Backlund’s pass from his skates and got an off-speed shot that defeated Hutchinson’s blocker.

Galchenyuk scored his first with the Maple Leafs and came alongside late in the second half. The attacker converted a target mouth feed from Tavares.

SCHEME

Calgary will host the Vancouver Canucks on Thursdays and Saturdays. However, the Canucks faced 16 players on the NHL’s pandemic protocol list on Sunday.

MILESTONES

Giordanos’ assist at Nordstrom’s goal was his 500th career point. Al MacInnis (822) and Gary Suter (565) are the only other Flames defender to reach that point.

With 297 career points, Rielly tied Bryan McCabe for sixth place in all points among the Maple Leafs defenders.

Flames forward Sam Bennett played his 400th NHL game of his career.

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