Michael Hutchinson made 29 saves while Zach Hyman and Auston Matthews both scored twice as Toronto beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 on Saturday for its fourth win in a row, and first of the season with a back-up goaltender in net.
The crowd at Scotiabank Arena gave the 29-year-old Hutchinson a standing ovation as the final seconds ticked down on his first NHL win since Jan. 10 of last season.
"That was a special moment. Obviously I haven’t been getting the results this year so it was nice to put a win in the column and hear the fans support you," said Hutchinson, who entered Saturday 0-5-1 with a 4.55 goals-against average and .876 save percentage in six starts.
Andersen, who has been a work horse for Toronto (19-14-4) and leads the NHL in victories, is 18-8-3 with a 2.52 GAA and .919 save percentage in 29 games.
"I’ve been on the bench watching Freddy make big saves, I tried not to over think things," said Hutchinson. "I feel like I’m in a good head space right now, feeling relaxed."
Jonathan Bernier started in net for Detroit (9-25-3) — stopping the only three shots he faced. Bernier lasted less than seven minutes before leaving with a lower-body injury that Wings coach Jeff Blashill referred to as a "sore groin" that was bothering the netminder in warmup.
Calvin Pickard came on in relief and made 16 saves for the loss.
Toronto, which was playing the second game of a back-to-back after a 6-3 win Friday against the Rangers on the road, started slow and were sloppy through the opening 10 minutes before settling down.
If it wasn’t for Hutchinson, who stopped two Dylan Larkin breakaway chances early on, the Leafs easily could have been trailing instead of going into the first intermission scoreless.
Hutchinson was there again when needed early in the second.
First he stopped Andreas Athanasiou on another breakaway chance as his teammates appeared to be a tired group for much of the first 40 minutes, and followed that up with a blocker save on Larkin, who was streaking down the wing.
"You get the chances but if one of those go in it’s a different game tonight, that’s the frustrating part for myself," said Larkin, whose club has dropped 15 of their last 17 games.
Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe added: "We got the saves early, clearly we needed that."
Toronto trailed 21-14 in shots when it caught a break for the game’s first goal with 2:50 to go in the second.
Hyman was pulled down by Mike Green on a breakaway leading to a tripping penalty. But video review showed the loose puck bounced off the trailing Red Wings defender and crossed the goal line before the Leaf forward crashed into the net, negating the penalty and giving the Leafs a 1-0 lead.
"I thought it was going to be a penalty shot when they called the trip," said Hyman.
Toronto appeared to find its energy for the third period, with Keefe dropping William Nylander and moving Mitch Marner onto the wing with Hyman and Matthews.
Matthews doubled the lead 2:18 into the third with a snap shot that beat Pickard five-hole, and Hyman added his second of the game at 8:51 with a backhand over Pickard’s glove.
Any chance of Detroit keeping it close went out the window when Matthews finished off a Marner pass out front at 13:39.
"I just felt the need to mix it up and change the chemistry and try and spark something," said Keefe.
"The Matthews line didn’t have much going on and I wanted to give them a chance to get going."
Detroit forward Anthony Mantha had to be helped off the ice in the dying minutes after being thrown to the ice by Toronto defenceman Jake Muzzin near the sideboards in the Leafs’ end. Mantha hit his head on the play and was left wobbly.
Muzzin was given a 10-minute penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct along with a two-minute minor for roughing. The Red Wings took advantage of the man advantage to spoil Hutchinson’s shutout bid on a Tyler Bertuzzi shot that got past him with just 1:44 remaining in the game.
Mantha’s teammates were upset with Muzzin’s actions, and Athanasiou appeared to be out for vengeance when he took a kneeing penalty with just 34 seconds left to play that led to the 25 year old dropping the gloves with Leafs blue liner Justin Holl.
"I think it’s preventable. I think the league really needs to look at that," Larkin said of the Muzzin play. "A wrestling move can’t be in our game like that…. He takes his legs out and it’s dangerous, not a hockey play."
Both Mantha and Bernier will miss Sunday’s home game against the Arizona Coyotes according to Blashill. Toronto hosts the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday.