NHL

Vejmelka's 45-save effort leads Coyotes past Maple Leafs in low-scoring affair

Ryan Dzingel scored two goals, Karel Vejmelka stopped 45 shots and the Arizona Coyotes defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 Wednesday night in Glendale, Arizona.

Matthews sets franchise record for consecutive goals in road games in Toronto loss

Coyotes goaltender Karel Vejmelka makes one of his 45 saves during the second period of a 2-1 win over the Maple Leafs on Wednesday in Glendale, Ariz. (Ross D. Franklin/The Associated Press)

The way Karel Vejmelka sees it, staying busy in the net beats inactivity.

Vejmelka stopped 45 shots to help the Arizona Coyotes beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 Wednesday night for just their eighth win of the season.

"It's always better for a goalie to face so many shots," the rookie goalie said. "It's better than to have three, four shots for a period. ... I felt really good. My teammates helped me and it was a big game for us today."

Ryan Dzingel, playing for the first time since Dec. 10, scored twice to give him four goals in 17 games this season to help the Coyotes escape last place overall in the NHL with 19 points — one ahead of Montreal.

WATCH | Dzingel leads Coyotes to victory over Maple Leafs:

Dzingel scores twice as Coyotes edge Maple Leafs

7 days ago
Duration 1:00
Ryan Dzingel scores both of Arizona's goals in a 2-1 victory over Toronto. 1:00

Arizona won without coach Andre Tourigny and defencemen Jakob Chychrun and Anton Stralman — all of whom were sidelined in COVID-19 protocols. Also out was goaltender Scott Wedgewood, who shares time with Vejmelka.

Auston Mathews scored his 24th goal of the season for Toronto. With his parents watching from the stands, Matthews — who grew up in nearby Scottsdale — set a Toronto franchise record by scoring a goal in his ninth consecutive road game. He had been tied with Babe Dye, Frank Mahovlich and Daniel Marois.

Matthews' goal came 14 seconds into the third period, assisted by Michael Bunting and Jake Muzzin. He beat Vejmelka above the left shoulder and the Maple Leafs seemed poised to come back to win.

WATCH | Matthews sets franchise record by scoring in 9 straight road games:

Auston Matthews sets Leafs' record by scoring a goal in 9 straight road games

7 days ago
Duration 0:57
Toronto's Auston Matthews scores in his home state of Arizona and sets a Maple Leafs' franchise record as he scores a goal in nine consecutive games on the road. 0:57

But with 7:36 remaining, Dzingel got his second of the night on a feed from Nick Schmaltz, beating Petr Mrazek.

Acting coach Phil Housley, whose regular job as an assistant includes running the defence, liked what he saw from his younger-than-usual squad.

"We had a young [defensive] core tonight, it was a great experience for them," he said. "(The Leafs are) gonna get chances, they're a very good offensive team. I like the way we were opportunistic tonight, we scored first which was really important for our confidence, and our special teams did a good job."

Mrazek was playing in his second game since November and his fourth of the season. He missed 20 games with a groin injury. He faced 18 shots.

"I thought the guys did a good job of making his night somewhat easy. We needed one more big save but goalies can't get wins when you only score one goal," Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said.

The Maple Leafs were playing their second game in two nights, having won in overtime Tuesday in Las Vegas.

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