DENVER (AP) — The Toronto Maple Leafs are accustomed to nail-biting finishes. This time, they got to enjoy a laugher at the expense of the NHL’s worst team.
Nazem Kadri scored twice, Frederik Andersen stopped 38 shots for his first shutout this season and the Maple Leafs routed the last-place Colorado Avalanche 6-0 on Thursday night.
Auston Matthews scored his team-leading 16th goal to get the Maple Leafs started in the first period. James Van Riemsdyk had a goal and an assist, and Connor Brown and Frederik Gauthier also scored for Toronto.
“All lines contributed. I think that’s the biggest part,” Matthews said. “Everybody was full throttle; we didn’t back up. Momentum can swing their side but Frederik (Andersen) came up big again.”
Andersen earned his seventh career shutout, and it was an easy one for the NHL veteran. The Maple Leafs scored five goals in 21:29 spanning the first and second periods, starting with Matthews’ goal at 7:13 of the first.
“It’s always fun to have them but wins are the most important, obviously,” Andersen said. “We’re happy to get the two points today.”
Toronto was 1-2-2 in its previous five games, and the last four were decided by one goal. The Maple Leafs have played 17 one-goal games this season and finally got an easy one while tying their season high in goals.
“We know we can score,” Kadri said. “It’s just about being persistent and staying on top of it, not getting discouraged when we don’t score goals. We’ve had opportunities every single game, it’s just, the puck doesn’t go in the back of the net.”
Gauthier’s first career goal at 8:42 of the second ended Semyon Varlamov’s night. The Colorado goalie allowed five goals on 18 shots and was replaced by Calvin Pickard.
Pickard made 12 saves for the Avalanche, who are 0-7-1 in their last eight home games. They have lost five straight overall.
Colorado has been shut out in consecutive games, and seven times this season.
“Probably as frustrating as it’s ever been, but you’re not going to get anywhere if you just roll over and feel sorry for yourself,” Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog said. “We just have to dig deep and work hard and pay attention to details.”
Kadri scored a power-play goal in the third, his 13th.
Matthews will play his first NHL game in his home state when the Maple Leafs visit Arizona on Friday. Matthews ranks second in rookie scoring behind Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine, although Laine has played four more games.
It’s setting up to be a close race for the Calder Trophy, awarded to the league’s top rookie.
“Points, numbers, all that stuff, I think you just kind of go day by day, just treat it like another day,” Matthews said after Thursday’s morning skate. “It’s an opportunity to get better. We have a good group of young guys here, a young core that we want to build up over the next couple years and be a dominant team.”
NOTES: Maple Leafs C Byron Froese made his season debut after being recalled from the Toronto Marlies of the AHL on Wednesday. … The Avalanche failed to score in six power-play chances, including a combined 2:01 of 5-on-3 action. They are 1 for 23 on the power play in the last five games. … Toronto loaned G Jhonas Enroth to the Marlies.
Maple Leafs: Play at Arizona on Friday night.
Avalanche: Play at Chicago on Friday night.