Maple Leafs sniper Phil Kessel found his scoring touch, while the Anaheim Ducks lost their composure in the National Hockey League (NHL) on Tuesday night.
Riding Kessel’s three-goal performance, Toronto recovered from a poor start to defeat Anaheim and deny the Ducks a club-record eighth straight win.
It was a Jekyll and Hyde performance for the Leafs, who were booed off the ice after a woeful first period that saw them outplayed, outshot 6-2 and outscored 1-0. Kessel struck twice and Toronto scored three unanswered goals in the second period to climb out of a 2-0 deficit.
“The first period we were awful tight,” Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said.
“We couldn’t execute a 20-foot pass if the guy was wide open ... We were tripping over one another the first period,” he added.
Toronto got its forecheck going and Kessel started the comeback with a power-play goal at 7 minutes, 44 seconds of the second period. The Ducks began to unwind and the Leafs led 3-2 going into the third.
Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau was left lamenting the rapid turnaround.
“We played really good for the first 30 minutes of the game. I mean, as good as we can play, but I think the big thing is we just lost our composure for 10 minutes. And we’ve got to get it back,” he said.
Captain Dion Phaneuf also scored for the Leafs.
The win ended a two-game losing streak for the Maple Leafs and Carlyle, who led the Ducks to the Stanley Cup in 2007 before being fired in 2011.
It was the Ducks’ first defeat since a season-opening 6-1 loss in Colorado. Anaheim arrived in Toronto on a seven-game win streak, equal with the longest in club history (set between Feb. 20 and March 7, 1999).
In Winnipeg, the Capitals edged the Jets 5-4 in a shootout, with Martin Erat scoring the winner in the sixth round of the shootout.
Alex Ovechkin had two goals and an assist for the Capitals, while Mikhail Grabovski and Troy Brouwer also scored.
The Canucks beat the Islanders by the same margin at Uniondale, with Brad Richardson banking in a shot off goalie Evgeni Nabokov 2:16 into overtime to lift Vancouver to victory.
Elsewhere in the NHL, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp each scored in the shootout to lead Chicago to a 3-2 victory over Florida. The Blue Jackets beat the Devils 4-1, the Oilers had a 4-3 win over the Canadiens, the Wild defeated the Predators 2-0 and the Coyotes had a 4-2 victory over the Flames.