TORONTO — Andreas Johnsson buried two goals as part of a four-point night, Jake Muzzin scored once and added two assists for his first three points with Toronto, and the Maple Leafs thumped the free-falling Anaheim Ducks 6-1 on Monday.
William Nylander and John Tavares, with a goal and an assist each, and Connor Brown also scored for Toronto (32-17-3), which has won three in a row at Scotiabank Arena after dropping six of their previous seven home games.
Frederik Andersen made 24 saves for the Leafs. Zach Hyman added two assists.
Rickard Rakell replied for Anaheim (21-23-9), which got 30 stops from John Gibson before he was pulled in favour of Chad Johnson following Toronto’s fifth goal.
The Ducks, who trailed 6-0 after the first period of Saturday’s embarrassing 9-3 defeat in Winnipeg, lost a fourth straight game and have just two victories in their last 18 games (2-12-4).
Toronto has made a habit of playing up or down to the competition this season — recent examples include victories over contenders Tampa Bay, Washington and Pittsburgh, and losses to non-playoff teams like Colorado, Arizona and Detroit — but that wasn’t the case Monday.
Tied 0-0 after the opening 20 minutes, the Leafs pushed ahead at 3:02 of the second when Tavares snapped his 31st goal of the season upstairs shortside on Gibson with Toronto in the middle of a line change.
Andersen, who shared the Anaheim crease with Gibson from 2013 to 2016 before the trade that made him the Leafs’ No. 1 goalie, stopped Nick Ritchie on a breakaway later in the period, prompting the home crowd to belt out chants of “Freddie! Freddie!”
Gibson then robbed Auston Matthews on a Toronto power play, but Johnsson made it 2-0 just 10 seconds after the penalty expired when he backhanded home his 11th at 13:40 off the rebound of Muzzin’s one-time blast through traffic.
Acquired from Los Angeles for two prospects and Toronto’s first-round pick in June last Monday, the Leafs defenceman then rocked Corey Perry near the Ducks bench to once again energize the building.
Ritchie took a cross-checking penalty on Muzzin, who had a number of battles with Anaheim during his time in the Pacific Division, in retaliation moments later.
Muzzin made the Ducks pay on the ensuing power play, blasting his fifth on another one-timer past Gibson with 2.2 seconds left on the clock to snap a 2-for-33 skid with the man advantage. The cheers for Toronto’s newest player continued as the period ended and the teams jawed at each other before going to the locker-rooms.
Anaheim got on the board at 2:45 of the third when Rakell sniped his ninth past Andersen’s blocker at 2:45, but the Leafs got that one right back 31 seconds later when Brown beat Brandon Montour to the front of the net on a 2-on-2 to rush to chip his fifth past Gibson.
Nylander, who came in with just one goal and six assists since ending his contract impasse in early December, then picked the far corner on Gibson off the rush for his second of the campaign.
That ended the night for the Anaheim netminder, who has been pulled in three straight games. He went to the locker-room and didn’t return to the bench.
Johnsson then cut into the slot fired his 12th past Johnson at 14:51 to make it 6-1.
Wearing the team’s road whites, Toronto came out fast against Anaheim — which was sporting its throwback Mighty Ducks uniforms — in the game’s opening minutes.
Gibson, who entered play having faced 106 more shots than the next-closest NHL goalie, was swimming in the blue paint early as Zach Hyman had a chance at a wide-open net that somehow stayed out.
The Ducks responded by taking the body — Montour laid a nice check on Johnsson along the boards — while Ryan Kesler, who returned to the lineup after missing five games with a hamstring injury, tried to get under the skin of a few different Leafs.
Notes: Toronto hosts Ottawa on Wednesday before embarking on a season-high six-game road trip. … Anaheim continues its five-game road trip Tuesday in Montreal.
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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press