Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Garret Sparks allowed three goals on 36 shots Tuesday against the Carolina Hurricanes in his final scheduled start of the regular season.
Sparks described Justin Williams’ first-period goal, which went off his skate and in, as a "tough bounce" and admitted he should've stopped Jordan Staal's third-period marker.
“Clean shot, gotta make a save,” Sparks said.
Sparks, the AHL's goaltender of the year last season, has an 8-9-1 record with a .902 save percentage and 3.15 goals-against average this year. Not guaranteed another appearance this season, Sparks was asked to reflect on his year.
"I’ll be ready next year," Sparks said. "I’ll be ready if anything happens. This year isn’t over for me. I’m still going to be a big part of this team going down the stretch... be a good teammate. Support Fred."
The Maple Leafs elected to tab Sparks as the backup to Frederik Andersen prior to the season, losing both Curtis McElhinney and Calvin Pickard on waivers. McElhinney, the Leafs backup the previous two seasons, has a 19-11-2 record with the Hurricanes this season, while Pickard has a 4-5-2 record with the Philadelphia Flyers and Arizona Coyotes.
Head coach Mike Babcock said Tuesday Andersen will start Thursday against the Tampa Bay Lightning and in the team's final game Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens.