TORONTO — Carl Soderberg scored his second goal of the night with 8:15 left in the third period before adding a third into an empty net to complete his first career hat trick as the Colorado Avalanche defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-3 on Monday night.
Gabriel Landeskog, Mikko Rantanen and Matt Calvert, into an empty net, had the other goals for Colorado (21-17-8), which had lost nine of its last 10 games overall (1-7-2) and seven straight in regulation on the road.
Semyon Varlamov stopped 17 shots for the Avalanche.
Igor Ozhiganov, Kasperi Kapanen and Mitch Marner replied for Toronto (28-15-2). Frederik Andersen made 32 saves in his return to the starting lineup after eight games on the sidelines with a groin injury. Auston Matthews added two assists.
Toronto, which entered play two points up on the Boston Bruins for second in the Atlantic Division, has lost five of its last seven games and four of five at home.
Colorado’s top line of Rantanen, Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon came in with an eye-popping 185 points on the season. Rantanen and MacKinnon ranked second and fifth in league scoring, respectively, while Landeskog was 19th.
Soderberg broke a 3-3 tie midway through the third when he snapped his 14th goal of the season past Andersen off a pass from J.T. Compher after Colin Wilson won a battle behind Toronto’s net.
Toronto, which went 4-4-0 without Andersen, pulled its goalie with just under three minutes to go, but Calvert beat Matthews to a loose puck in the Colorado zone and banked his seventh off the boards and in with 2:51 left.
Soderberg completed the hat trick into another empty net at 18:12.
With some of the fans at Scotiabank Arena booing Leafs defenceman Jake Gardiner every time he touched the puck after a soft play led directly to Soderberg’s short-handed effort in the second period to make it 3-2 for the visitors, Marner tied the game six minutes into the third.
The winger took a stretch pass from Travis Dermott and ripped his 18th goal of the season and third in as many games past Varlamov’s glove.
After a scoreless first, the offensive floodgates opened in a middle period that featured five goals and another that was disallowed.
Ozhiganov scored his third at 2:14 when the blue-liner’s snapshot from the point through a screen fooled Varlamov.
Leafs winger Par Lindholm appeared to score his second of the year and first in 39 games at 3:32, but the goal was called back after Colorado challenged for offside.
Toronto went right back to work and scored just 11 seconds after play resumed — four seconds in game time before the puck entered the net on Lindholm’s effort — when Kapanen snapped a seven-game drought with his 15th.
Landeskog tipped home his 28th at 6:33 off a point shot from Tyson Barrie, who ended the night hitting two posts.
Andersen did well to stop MacKinnon on a partial breakaway and Wilson’s quick backhand, but could do nothing when Rantanen stripped Nazem Kadri in the Toronto zone and roofed his 21st at 9:56.
Soderberg then made it 3-2 on his 13th with 5:31 left in the second when he outmuscled Gardiner for the puck late in a Toronto power play before chipping a shot past Andersen’s blocker from in tight.
Gardiner and defence partner Nikita Zaitsev were also responsible for two gaffes that led to goals against in the second period of Saturday’s 3-2 loss to Boston.
With their No. 1 goalie back in the crease, the Leafs iced their best lineup — save for injured fourth-line winger Tyler Ennis (broken ankle) — for just the fifth time this season, but were on the back foot early.
After Andersen had to be sharp on a couple Colorado chances as Toronto barely touched the puck in the game’s first two minutes, the Leafs had a some great looks on a power play.
Marner split the Avalanche defence after taking a stretch pass from Morgan Rielly, but Varlamov shut the door.
Leafs winger William Nylander, who came in with just one goal in 16 games since his contract impasse ended last month, was foiled twice by Varlamov before he sent a backhand over Colorado’s net.
Notes: Andersen had originally targeted Saturday’s home game against Boston only to be cut down by a flu bug. … Leafs backup Garret Sparks, meanwhile, was back on the bench following five games on the shelf with a concussion. … Michael Hutchinson, who started the last five outings for Toronto on an emergency basis with both Andersen and Sparks sidelined, was loaned to the AHL Marlies. … Toronto visits the Tampa Bay Lightning, who are running away with the Atlantic, on Thursday before visiting the Florida Panthers on Friday. …. Colorado wraps up its five-game road trip through Canada on Wednesday in Ottawa against the Senators.
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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press