Toronto forward Zach Hyman thought linemate Auston Matthews‘ goal late in the third period should have counted. Unfortunately for him and the Maple Leafs, the officials disagreed.
In the matter of minutes the Leafs went from believing they were tied 2-2 to a 4-1 loss on Monday night against the Arizona Coyotes.
Matthews, playing in his 100th career game, looked to have scored with 3:50 to play only for the goal to be overturned upon review for goalie interference on Hyman.
Arizona capped the called-back goal by scoring two empty netters to take the two points on the road.
"I thought it was going to be upheld," said Hyman. "I think my stick hit his pad… I think the goalie had enough time to get across in position, but that’s how they’re calling goalie interference… Tough break for us."
"I felt their guy spear me and I went inside the net and couldn’t get back in time. Even though I was trying I didn’t have enough time and good for us," said Antti Raanta, who finished with 26 saves.
Toronto’s win streak was snapped at six games with the loss. Leafs coach Mike Babcock isn’t blaming the disallowed goal, though, for his team’s inability to match what would have been Toronto’s longest win streak since 2003.
"Goal was going in whether (Hyman) touched (Raanta) or not because he had time, but the league decides it," said Babcock.
"(But) in my opinion that didn’t affect the outcome of the game — the 1-on-1 battles did. (The Coyotes) were ready to compete at the start, they were better than us. When you don’t start on time you don’t deserve good results and we got what we deserved."
Frederik Andersen had his shutout streak snapped at 1:41:28 with a first-period goal against after blanking the opponent in back-to-back games. He finished the game with 28 saves.
Matthews, in his second game back from an upper-body injury that cost him four games, wasn’t happy with his performance. He finished with two shots on net.
"I didn’t play very well tonight," said Matthews. "I don’t really like a lot of plays I made, just turned the puck over. I think it’s just a means of getting back to the level I was playing at before I was injured. It’s obviously frustrating."
Brendan Perlini put the Coyotes ahead 1-0 at 9:53 while on the power play, taking a cross-crease feed from Derek Stepan and wristing it over a sprawled-out Andersen.
Toronto (14-8-0) started to take control of the game as the first wore on and earned a power-play chance of its own that carried over with 1:53 of 5-on-4 time to start the second.
The Leafs made use of that man advantage just 33 seconds into the period when James van Riemsdyk put home a rebound for his team-leading fifth power-play goal, 11th overall, of the season.
Toronto ran into penalty trouble leading to Arizona’s second goal.
It only took Oliver Ekman-Larsson five seconds on a power play to beat Andersen with a point shot through traffic with 1:43 to go in the period as the Coyotes took a 2-1 lead into the third.
Ekman-Larsson’s goal ultimately gave the Coyotes (5-15-3) their third win in a row, their longest streak of success this season after starting the year with just two wins in their first 20 games.
"We flushed the first 20 games down the drain," said Arizona coach Rick Tocchet. "I think the last (few) games we’re playing the right way, not going off the grid and being individual.
Babcock shuffled his line midway through the third looking for a spark to produce the tying goal. Toronto came up with a waved-off goal and two posts but no equalizer before Max Domi and Tobias Rieder scored empty netters.
"I think they’re one of the better teams in the league, we knew we had to play a certain way to beat them," said Tocchet. "It’s hard to do for 60 minutes and tonight I think we did it for the most part."