Andersen returns for Maple Leafs against Avalanche

Frederik Andersen will start for the Toronto Maple Leafs against the Colorado Avalanche at Scotiabank Arena on Monday (7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, TSN4, ALT, NHL.TV).

The 29-year-old goalie missed seven games with a groin injury and one with the flu. Michael Hutchinson started the past five games, but Garret Sparks will back up Andersen against the Avalanche in his return from a concussion.

“I’m happy to be back and looking forward to be back playing again,” Andersen said. “I think anyone will say that it [stinks] to look from the outside in and see the guys playing without you. You want to be part of the team and part of the battle for every game.”

Andersen, who last played in a 5-3 win against the New York Rangers on Dec. 22, is 20-9-1 with a 2.50 goals-against average and .923 save percentage in 30 games. He’s third in the NHL in wins behind Marc-Andre Fleury of the Vegas Golden Knights (26) and Martin Jones of the San Jose Sharks (21). 

“Especially dealing with an injury you get a lot of questions about how you’re feeling and you have to think about that every day,” Andersen said. “It’s pretty normal obviously because you want to try to get better but it becomes a thing you start noticing more or less. It’s going to be nice to start thinking about games instead of rehabbing.”

Sparks has not played since a 4-0 loss to the New York Islanders on Dec. 29. The 25-year-old is 6-2-1 this season with a 3.01 goals-against average, .905 save percentage and one shutout.

Hutchinson, who was acquired in a trade with the Florida Panthers on Dec. 29, is 2-3-0 with a 2.64 goals-against average, .914 save percentage and one shutout with Toronto. 

The Maple Leafs (28-14-2, 58 points) are second in the Atlantic Division, 14 points behind the NHL-leading Tampa Bay Lightning. They were 4-4-0 in Andersen’s absence.

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