BUFFALO, N.Y. â€” An injury to Frederik Andersen has cast doubt on the Toronto Maple Leafs’ goaltending â€” and their playoff chances.
Andersen left Toronto’s 5-2 loss to the Sabres on Saturday night after sustaining an upper-body injury. He’d allowed two goals on 16 shots in the first period and did not return for the second after apparently getting hurt during a collision with Buffalo forward William Carrier.
“The other team’s doctor thought he should come out of the game, so he came out of the game,” said Toronto head coach Mike Babcock. “So once our doctor has seen him (Sunday) then I’ll have a better handle on what’s going on and I’ll be able to tell you.”
The Maple Leafs’ grip on third place in the Atlantic Division was loosened after losing in regulation for just the second time in their past 10 (7-2-1). With 85 points, Toronto has a one-point edge over Boston after the Bruins beat the New York Islanders.
Curtis McElhinney replaced Andersen in net for the Maple Leafs, allowing three goals on 22 in the loss. Two came on the power play on the first eight shots he faced.
Toronto avoided a scare five minutes into the third period when McElhinney was upended by Sabres forward Marcus Foligno, who lost his balance and slid into the net. McElhinney got up immediately. With Andersen not on the bench, it was unclear who would have had to play in net if Toronto required a third goalie.
Andersen has been the Leafs go-to goalie all season. The 27-year-old has a 30-15-14 record this season with a 2.66 goals-against average and .918 save percentage.
McElhinney was waived by the Columbus Blue Jackets on Jan. 9 and picked up by the Leafs the next day. He was added to Toronto’s roster to replace Jhonas Enroth, who had struggled as Andersen’s backup.
The 33-year-old McElhinney has a 6-6-2 record this season, 2.61 GAA and a .921 save percentage this season. Asked if he’d be relying on the veteran with Andersen’s status in doubt, Babcock refused to commit to anything.
“I’m not doing that because I don’t speculate about stuff,” said Babcock to reporters. “We’ll deal with what I know and you guys can get paid to speculate. You guys do that.”
The Leafs top goaltending options in their minor league system are Antoine Bibeau and Garret Sparks.
Bibeau has a 13-14-1 record with the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies this season. He has a 3.08 GAA and a .894 save percentage. He’s also appeared in two games with the Leafs this campaign, with a win, a loss, a 1.99 GAA and a .927 save percentage.
Sparks has a 16-7-0 record with the Marlies this season with a 2.21 GAA and a .923 save percentage.
With files from The Associated Press
The Canadian Press