TORONTO - Shutouts don't come easy for the Maple Leafs. Rookie Garret Sparks made it happen Monday night.
The 22-year-old Sparks stopped 24 shots in his NHL debut to lead Toronto to a 3-0 win over the visiting Edmonton Oilers on Monday.
It was the first time since Dec 23, 2014 that the Leafs shut out their opponent, with Jonathan Bernier blanking the Dallas Stars 4-0 that night. Monday was also the first time any Leaf netminder earned the shutout in his debut.
Leo Komarov, with two, and Nazem Kadri supplied the offence for the Maple Leafs (7-11-5), who snapped a three-game skid. James van Riemsdyk chipped in with three assists.
Anders Nilsson turned away 23-of-25 shots for the Oilers (8-14-2), who wrapped up their five-game road trip at 1-3-1.
Both teams had only a shot apiece through the first 10 minutes of the game. Edmonton led 8-3 heading into first intermission, but Toronto put on pressure in the second to even the shots 16-16 after 40 minutes.
Komarov opened the scoring on the power play with his team-leading ??? and career high ??? ninth goal of the season 6:45 into the first.
After a defensive breakdown by the Edmonton penalty killers, van Riemsdyk found Komarov alone between the face-off circles. He tipped the pass past Nilsson, who was frozen on the play by van Riemsdyk creeping in from the blue line.
Komarov's goal was Toronto's seventh by way of the power play in the past six games.
The Oilers had a strong first shift to open the second period and forced Sparks to make three quick saves, including one in close on Leon Draisaitl.
Justin Schultz managed to get the puck past Sparks but hit the post and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins rang the iron for the second time in the middle frame with just over five to play.
Draisaitl burned Matt Hunwick one-on-one late in the second off the rush that led to a great scoring chance. The Leafs defenceman was forced into taking a hooking penalty while the puck sat loose in the crease after Sparks made the initial save with his blocker.
The Leafs had an opportunity to double their lead with back-to-back power-play chances in the second, but were unable to do so.
The two clubs traded chances early in the third before Kadri made it 2-0 at 7:33 on a goal that went to review for a high stick.
Jake Gardiner floated the puck at the net from the blue line and Kadri deflected it down past Nilsson for his third of the season.
Taylor Hall had a great chance to put his team on the board late in the third while on the power play but was turned away by Sparks.
Komarov added his second goal of the game into an empty net with 1:01 remaining.
Notes: Garret Sparks had the second highest save percentage in the AHL prior to call up at .938...This time last season Sparks was playing in the ECHL while Anders Nilsson was in the KHL... Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul missed his first game of the year with an undisclosed injury.