“It definitely wasn’t our best, I think we looked a little sluggish at times,” Tavares said. “We defended really well and I thought played a quicker game in the third, which I think allowed us to take control. There’s going to be nights, you don’t have your best, but you’ve got to work and compete and find ways to get your game going. I think we did that.”
Joakim Nordstrom and Andrew Mangiapane 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 rivals.
“In order to keep up, the team has to play at a pace,” Sutter said. “You have to be able to execute at that pace and check at that pace. For some of our players, that’s difficult.”
Toronto has won five of seven meetings between the teams this season. The Flames host the Maple Leafs again Monday.
Calgary trails the Montreal Canadiens, holding down the fourth and final playoff spot in the division, by six points.
Toronto scored twice in the third period. The Leafs went ahead 3-2 on an own-goal by the Flames credited to Tavares at 6:55 .
Rittich made initial saves on William Nylander and Tavares, but the rebound went off Noah Hanifin’s skate and into Calgary’s net. Hanifin swung his stick in frustration and broke it across Calgary’s post.
“There’s a reason why (the Leafs) are where they are,” Flames captain Mark Giordano said. “And you could tell they were coming out with the mentality to win the game in the third. We’ve got to have that same mentality when games are tied or when you’re down, whatever the case, you’ve got to have that confidence.”
Matthews made it 4-2 at 9:16 with his league-leading 25th from close range. From the goal-line, Mitch Marner passed to his linemate driving the net for the insurance goal.
“We obviously were not very good at all through 40 minutes, but we were in a game,” Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said. “A big goal there late in the second. The way that it worked out, we really needed to find a way to get better for 20 and if we did, we liked our opportunity 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 on net 58 seconds after puck drop. The defenseman skated the puck to the far faceoff circle and beat Rittich with a wrist shot over the Calgary goaltender’s left shoulder.
The Flames tied it 1-1 on Nordstrom’s goal at 12:43 as he tipped Mark Giordano’s slap shot upstairs on Hutchinson for his first goal as a Flame.
Mangiapane put the Flames up 2-1 with 39 seconds remaining in the opening period. He pulled Mikael Backlund’s pass out of his skates and got an off-speed shot away that beat Hutchinson’s blocker.
Galchenyuk scored his first with the Maple Leafs and tied the score late in the second period. The forward converted a goal-mouth feed from Tavares.
Calgary is scheduled to host the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday and Saturday. The Canucks, however, were dealing with 16 players on the NHL’s pandemic protocol list Sunday.
With 297 career points, Rielly tied Bryan McCabe for sixth in all-time points among Maple Leafs defensemen.
Flames forward Sam Bennett played his 400th career NHL game.