Leafs’ three-game winning streak ends with loss to Coyotes

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TEMPE, Arizona – Well, that was interesting.

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Certainly more than it should have been for the Maple Leafs on their first visit to Mullett Arena, the cozy home of the Arizona Coyotes.

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For the first time this season, the Leafs lost in regulation while leading after two periods, losing 6-3 to the Coyotes.

Toronto, which led 3-2 after 40 minutes Thursday night, is now 16-1-4 as it takes the lead early in the third period.

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Jack McBain scored the game-winning goal at 13:43 of the third, slotting a pass from Lawson Crouse past Leafs goaltender Matt Murray after a turnover from Morgan Rielly resulted in an odd-man rush.

Arizona tied the game on the power play at 4:40 when JJ Moser came up shortside on Murray, with a second left in a minor by Conor Timmins.

McBain and Barrett Hayton scored in an empty net.

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The Coyotes have won six of their last eight against the Leafs.

The Leafs, who started the three-game road trip with an overtime victory at St. Louis on Tuesday, will finish in Denver on Saturday against the Colorado Avalanche. The Leafs had won three straight and should have been embarrassed after that loss. Arizona will not make the playoffs.

The Leafs had their usual fan support, with more Auston Matthews jerseys in the crowd, given he was playing in his childhood backyard.

There’s no denying that the arena had a junior hockey feel to it, and while it will only be a temporary home for the Coyotes, it’s nothing the NHL should be proud of. The building itself sparkles, but still. There’s a risk of embarrassment if it gets to the point where the Coyotes aren’t selling consistently. Especially considering Mullett Arena holds 4,600 for hockey.

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The lighting wasn’t great. Shadows were all over the ice, and from what was being said on social media, it didn’t look good on TV.

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Rielly returned to the Leafs’ blue line, playing for the first time since Nov. 21, when he suffered a knee injury against the New York Islanders. Paired with Timothy Liljegren, Rielly got an assist.

Dryden Hunt made an immediate physical impact in his first game for the Leafs after being acquired from Colorado on Dec. 19. Not only was Hunt credited with a team-best six hits, but he dropped the gloves and battled McBain in the second period. The Leafs could benefit more from Hunt’s fourth-line experience as he nears 200 career NHL games.

The Leafs had a 3-2 lead in the third period, thanks to a go-ahead goal from Alex Kerfoot, who made a great solo run in the offensive zone. Jakob Chychrun, whose name has often been linked to the Leafs in trade rumors, didn’t put up much resistance when Kerfoot passed him. Kerfoot handed the puck to Mark Giordano at the point, then scored on a rebound from Giordano’s shot. That goal, Kerfoot’s sixth, came 11:19 into the second.

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Chychrun had tied the game at 6:52, beating Murray with a low shot just six seconds after Mitch Marner started serving a stumbling minor.

A Coyotes first goal didn’t shake the Leafs’ first-period effort.

Nick Bjugstad scored at 46 seconds, getting the ice open to head towards the net after Giordano fell on defensive partner Justin Holl.

It came on Arizona’s first shot on goal. He had one more shot in the rest of the period, on the power play.

Speaking of powerplay, the Leafs’ second unit scored both of Toronto’s goals in the first 20 minutes. It’s no coincidence that Rielly, who assisted on the second goal, was part of the group.

Pontus Holmberg tied the game at 9:02, tipping a Timmins shot past goaltender Karel Vejmelka.

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Timmins, who now has eight assists in 10 games with the Leafs, made a smart play on Toronto’s next power play, sending a cross pass to Calle Jarnkrok. There was no hesitation from Jarnkrok as he ripped a shot into the net.

Timmins had a total of 87 assists in his last two junior years with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds from 2016-18. What he does on the power play is nothing new to him, and he provides a second unit weapon the club needed. Timmins’ contributions could be short-lived, however, with Rasmus Sandin not far off from a neck injury.



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