The Toronto Maple Leafs offense put on a show during Thursday night’s 7-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets and showed no signs of slowing down during their 8-5 win over the New York Rangers tonight.
Fans at the sold out Air Canada Centre did not have to wait very long for some fireworks on Saturday as Dominic Moore came back to haunt one of his former teams in his first shift with his current team. Just 2:30 into the first period, Moore got in position in the slot and redirected a Nikita Zaitsev shot past Henrik Lundqvist for the opening goal of the night. Matt Martin picked up the secondary assist, his first helper of the season.
Entering tonight’s game, J.T. Miller had four goals and eight points in 10 career games versus the Maple Leafs. Miller scored his fifth career goal against the Leafs to tie the game just 1:12 after Moore’s tally. Frederik Andersen made the initial save on Chris Krieder’s shot from the left dot, but Miller was right in front to slam home the rebound.
Less than two minutes later Zach Hyman gave the Leafs a 2-1 lead with his first goal of the season. Hyman showed off some great offensive skill during the sequence. First he split two defenders only to be stopped by Lundqvist, but he jumped on the loose puck and beat the Rangers goaltender with a nifty wrist shot. William Nylander picked up the lone assist on the play.
Jake Gardiner extended the lead with an unassisted power play goal at 11:07. Gardiner caught three Rangers flat footed at the blue line and skated in uncontested to beat Lundqvist to the stick side with a wrist shot. On the way by, Gardiner was slashed by Mats Zuccarello so the Leafs went right back to the power play.
Shortly after that power play expired, Zaitsev picked up his second point of the night by giving the Leafs a 4-1 lead. With the Nazem Kadri line causing havoc down low, Zaitsev fired a perfectly placed wrist shot from just above the right circle. Ron Hainsey and Kadri had the assists on the play.
Hyman scored the second goal of the period at 17:19. While being pinned to the end boards by two Rangers defenders, Hyman was able to get the puck back out to the front of the net and it deflected into the net off of former Maple Leaf Michael Grabner.
Kevin Shattenkirk gave the Rangers some energy at the end of the period by scoring a power play goal through heavy traffic with just 23 seconds in the opening period for his first point with New York.
The second period was a nightmare for the Maple Leafs as New York scored three times to send the game into the second intermission tied 5-5. Mika Zibanejad scored on the power play before Marc Staal and Mats Zuccarello followed with goals of their own.
Whatever Mike Babcock said during the break must have worked because the Leafs responded just over seven minutes into the final period. Gardiner keep the puck in the zone and then skated it down below the goal line before getting out in front for Tyler Bozak to tip it in behind Ondrej Pavalec. Mitch Marner picked up the secondary assist on the eventual game winning goal.
Rangers head coach Alain Vigenault challenged the play for being offside, but lost the challenge which gave the Leafs a power play. Shortly after the power play expired, Leo Komarov gave the Leafs an insurance goal. William Nylander drove the net and his backhand shot hit off the crossbar, but Komarov was there to make sure the puck got over the goal line.
Kadri iced the game with an empty net goal assisted by Patrick Marleau and Komarov with 90 seconds left.
The Maple Leafs are off until Monday when they host the Chicago Blackhawks, who have scored 14 goals through the first five periods of their season.