TORONTO -- David Ayres, a 42-year-old emergency backup goalie, made eight saves for the Carolina Hurricanes in a 6-3 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena on Saturday.
Ayres, who drives the ice resurfacing machine at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto and is a regular participant at Maple Leafs practices when an extra goalie is required, entered at 11:19 of the second period after Petr Mrazek sustained an upper-body injury in a collision with Maple Leafs forward Kyle Clifford in a race for the puck.
Ayres became the oldest goalie in NHL history to win his regular-season debut; the record was held by Hugh Lehman with the Chicago Blackhawks on Nov. 17, 1926 (41 years, 21 days).
"I thought I'd be nervous if it ever happened. I was nervous for the whole second period," said Ayres, who allowed a goal on each of the first two shots he faced. "As you could tell, I couldn't stop a puck if I had to in the second. I told the boys in the intermission, 'I'll be ready to go.' All I thought was keep breathing nice and slowly and relax, the shots are going to come. I face these guys all the time, the Leafs, at practice, to be honest."
[WATCH: All Hurricanes vs. Maple Leafs highlights]
James Reimer, who started for Carolina, made one save before leaving the game at 6:10 of the first period. He was injured at 3:07 in a collision with Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin, who was pushed into him by Maple Leafs forward Zach Hyman.
"I said, 'Stop the puck, buddy,'" Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour said when asked what he said to Ayres during the second intermission. "We told him we were going to go after them in the third period, we were not going to sit back, we're going to try to protect you but you're going to have to make a save or two to get us the win.
"I just love the way our guys accepted him, cheered him on. It was special to be a part of."
Video: CAR@TOR: Ayres discusses appearing in first NHL game
Warren Foegele scored twice, and Martin Necas had a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes (35-22-4), who are tied with the New York Islanders and Columbus Blue Jackets for the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.
Frederik Andersen made 41 saves for the Maple Leafs (32-22-8), who have lost three of their past four games and lead the Florida Panthers by two points for third place in the Atlantic Division.
"I talked to the team and said, 'If we don't change how we're playing, they don't even need a goalie,'" Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said. "We were getting no shots, no chances, nothing was happening. They didn't need a goalie the way the game was going."
Nino Niederreiter gave the Hurricanes a 2-1 lead at 9:53 of the second period when he one-timed a pass from Necas at the top of the slot.
Foegele made it 3-1 when he put in a rebound of Joel Edmundson's shot at 10:49.
Video: CAR@TOR: Foegele backhands rebound past Andersen
Teuvo Teravainen scored at 13:17 with Clifford serving a minor penalty for charging on Mrazek to make it 4-1.
John Tavares made it 4-2 at 13:36, and Pierre Engvall scored at 15:10 to make it 4-3.
But Foegele gave the Hurricanes a 5-3 lead 53 seconds into the third period, and Necas scored at 3:44 for the 6-3 final.
"Certainly no, I haven't seen anything like this," Tavares said. "We obviously didn't handle the circumstances of the game very well. It might have been our poorest night of execution. We seemed like the team that played [Friday] night and travelled. We were sloppy and our execution was extremely low."
Video: CAR@TOR: Tavares goes five-hole with wrister
Alexander Kerfoot gave Toronto a 1-0 lead at 19:24 of the first period.
Lucas Wallmark tied it 1-1 at 4:46 of the second.
They said it
"He kicked [butt] in there. It was unreal. It's stupid. It's so hard for an NHL goalie to come back after an injury. Your first game feels like you've never played before. For him, for what he did tonight, he's a legend." -- Hurricanes goalie James Reimer on emergency backup David Ayres
"I just think we didn't have enough offensive zone time, a lot of one-and-dones and turnovers, especially our line, especially myself. It's just not good enough. I expect myself to be a lot better in these games. Knowing this team was going to come out like that, that's [garbage] on my part. It's something that I've got to be better and we've got to be better with. Everything seemed to go wrong. Now it's time to stop feeling sorry for ourselves. I'm taking a lot on myself for this [stuff]. I've got to be better." -- Maple Leafs forward Mitchell Marner
Video: CAR@TOR: Necas roofs backhander home from the slot
Need to know
Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce left at 13:36 of the second period with an upper-body injury. Brind'Amour said Pesce "is out for a long time," and Reimer would be "out for a while." Brind'Amour said he is unsure how long Mrazek would be out. … Carolina center Sebastian Aho extended his point streak to 12 games with an assist on Teravainen's goal, matching the longest streak of his NHL career. He has 18 points (11 goals, seven assists) during the stretch. … The Maple Leafs went 0-for-4 on the power play. … Toronto forward William Nylander has a three-game point streak (one goal, two assists).
Hurricanes: Host the Dallas Stars on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; FS-CR, FS-SW, NHL.TV)
Maple Leafs: At the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, TVAS, SUN, SNO, NHL.TV)
Video: Emergency goalie helps Hurricanes defeat Maple Leafs