Hours after trading defenceman Dion Phaneuf, the Leafs dropped a 4-3 decision to the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome on Tuesday.
Toronto was already without injured forwards Tyler Bozak, Joffrey Lupul and James van Riemsdyk. Meanwhile the Flames were without the services of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Lance Bouma, who had all been benched by coach Bob Hartley for disciplinary reasons.
The teams exchanged special teams goals in the first period with Calgary’s Matt Stajan off for holding. Markus Granlund converted a shorthanded breakaway, firing the puck between the legs of James Reimer to open the scoring. Less than a minute later, Peter Holland deflected a point shot from Frank Corrado to even the score on the power play.
The Flames reclaimed the lead before the period was out. Just six seconds after Toronto was assessed a bench minor for too many men on the ice, Mikael Backlund tipped a shot from Dougie Hamilton to put his team up 2-1.
Toronto nearly let the game get out of reach after Micheal Ferland, and then Hamilton, scored to give Calgary a three-goal edge. But recent Marlies call-up Josh Leivo connected off the rush to allow the Leafs to creep to within a goal.
In the third period, Jake Gardiner had a terrific end-to-end rush that culminated in the Leafs’ third goal of the game. However, the visitors couldn’t find the equalizer, dropping the game in regulation.
“I thought we gave them two gifts, but I thought we did lots of good things,” coach Mike Babcock said to reporters afterwards. “In the end, we worked hard and had the puck a lot, but didn’t score enough to win.”