Maple Leafs end trip with loss to Ducks, third in row
Score late to avoid second straight shutout, fail to pad third-place leadby Dan Arritt / NHL.com Independent Correspondent
ANAHEIM -- The Toronto Maple Leafs missed an opportunity to pad their third-place lead in the Atlantic Division, losing to the Anaheim Ducks 2-1 at Honda Center on Friday.
William Nylander scored, and Jack Campbell made 26 saves for the Maple Leafs (35-25-9), who remained five points ahead of the Florida Panthers after their third straight loss.
"We're all in this together," Toronto forward Auston Matthews said. "You play through the good and the bad and the adversity. Obviously, in the position that we're in, there are lots of critics and lots of stuff that comes with it, but I think in this room we're headstrong."
[WATCH: All Maple Leafs vs. Ducks highlights]
John Gibson made 26 saves before leaving with an injury with 9:40 remaining in the third period and the Ducks leading 2-0. Ryan Miller made four saves in relief.
"They're both world-class goaltenders, so it's nice to have them in our corner," Ducks forward Carter Rowney said.
Rowney and Adam Henrique scored for Anaheim (28-32-8), which is 4-2-1 in the past seven games.
Nylander scored his 30th goal of the season at 17:00 of the third period to make it 2-1. He took the puck from Anaheim forward Sonny Milano just inside the Ducks blue line, skated into the right circle and scored on a wrist shot to the far side.
Video: TOR@ANA: Nylander beats Miller for 30th goal of year
The Maple Leafs scored three goals in three games on their California trip.
"We know it's going to come," forward Mitchell Marner said. "There's no need to rush or put pressure on ourselves. We're a team that can score. I mean, this road trip we showed that we can play in low-scoring games, it's just our scoring wasn't there, but it will come."
The Ducks took a 1-0 lead at 3:17 of the first period.
Anaheim defenseman Michael Del Zotto took a point shot that David Backes tipped and Campbell kicked to the side of the crease, but Rowney scored into the open side of the net for his NHL career-high eighth goal of the season.
Video: TOR@ANA: Rowney puts home rebound to kick off scoring
Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said he liked the way they controlled the neutral zone for most of the game.
"It was muddy and it was deep coming through there for [Toronto]," Eakins said. "That's what we have to do against teams that have great skill like that."
Henrique made it 2-0 at 10:20 of the third period, scoring his team-leading 25th goal of the season from the slot.
During the break in play after the goal, Gibson came out following a visit by the team trainer. Eakins did not provide an update.
The Ducks were coming off a 4-3 overtime win at the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday.
"Two big wins against two good teams," Rowney said. "Hopefully we can keep it going on this homestand."
They said it
"I think the positives are that our guys will feel good about the fact that they're playing in these tight games and feel good about the fact that, on the back to back at the end of the trip here, that we have our best period in the third and have a pretty strong push throughout the period. We'll regroup and be ready to go on home ice." -- Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe
"[Gibson] is always back there for us, always making huge saves. I don't know what happened late there, but a veteran guy like [Miller] can just step in there and just be calm and just go and play, and, obviously, made a couple big saves for us too to keep us ahead." -- Ducks forward Adam Henrique
Need to know
Nylander's goal ended a scoreless stretch of 144:33 for the Maple Leafs. ... Toronto defenseman Cody Ceci had two hits in 14:38 after missing 14 games with an ankle injury. … The Ducks are 17-1-1 this season when leading after the first period. ... Miller made his 778th appearance to surpass Tom Barrasso for second place on the NHL's all-time list for United States-born goalies. ... Backes' assist was his first point in three games with Anaheim since he was acquired in a trade with the Boston Bruins on Feb. 21.
Maple Leafs: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; TVAS, TSN4, SUN, NHL.TV)
Ducks: Host the Minnesota Wild on Sunday (9 p.m. ET; PRIME, FS-N, FS-WI, NHL.TV)