Phil Kessel and James Reimer led the surging Maple Leafs to a big victory Monday night in front of the home fans at the Air Canada Center.
Phil Kessel scored two goals and added an assist and James Reimer stopped 27 shots to win his third straight decision as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Edmonton Oilers, 6-3, at Air Canada Centre Monday night. Kessel had a fantastic game, scoring his 28th and 29th goals of the season while registering six shots on goal and finishing with a +4 rating.
21-year-old Jordan Eberle is showing no signs of a sophomore slump, as he notched a pair of first-period goals to give him 24 for the year as part of his team-leading 54 points. Eberle came close to recording his first-ever NHL hat trick midway through the third period when his straightaway blueline blast beat a screened Reimer but rang loudly off the crossbar and deflected into the netting above the glass.
Jeff Petry tallied his second of the season in the middle frame for Edmonton's other goal.
After Eberle's deuce was countered by goals from the Leafs MacArthur and Gardiner to knot the opening period in a 2-2 deadlock, Toronto broke the game open in the second period. Goals by Kessel and Bozak gave the Maple Leafs a 4-2 lead before Petry cut the Oilers deficit to one.
Lupul restored the two-goal lead 3:30 later. Dion Phaneuf stopped a Taylor Hall clearing pass and sent a shot on Edmonton starter Devan Dubnyk, but Lupul was able to grab the puck and knock it past the netminder to send the Leafs to the locker room with a 5-3 lead at the second intermission.
Kessel finished off the scoring with a shot from center ice that hit the empty net with 1:05 remaining and Dubnyk pulled for an extra attacker.
The Leafs improved to 20-0-1 when leading after two periods on the year.
The game featured nine goals on 60 shots on goal (30 apiece), and 62 hits.
With the high number of goals tallied, one would have to think that the power play was a big factor in the outcome. After all, the two teams are each in the top five clubs in success rate with the man advantage -- Edmonton is third at 22%, and Toronto is fifth with 20%. But the power play would have no bearing on the festivities on this night, as there was not one penalty called over the entirety of the 60 minutes.
Oilers' head coach Tom Renney missed the game after taking a puck to the side of the head during the morning skate. The coach was experiencing headaches and remained at the team's hotel. Associate coach Ralph Krueger handled the bench duties for the club in Renney's absence.
Some other bad news for Edmonton: in just the second game back from a shoulder injury that caused rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to miss a month, the Calder Trophy candidate took a hard check from winger Mike Brown during the third period and did not return. Nugent-Hopkins took the brunt of the impact to his left shoulder, which is the area he injured in a freak accident when he lost an edge in Chicago on Jan. 2 and fell awkwardly into the United Center boards.
Toronto stretched its winning streak to three as they jumped over the idle Ottawa Senators for seventh place in the Eastern Conference standings, just one point behind the New Jersey Devils, while Edmonton saw their three-game winning streak come to an abrupt halt.