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Connolly The OT Hero

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
EDMONTON _ Tim Connolly scored in overtime as the Toronto Maple Leafs snapped a four-game losing skid with a 4-3 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday.


After the Oilers came in on a three-on-one rush, the Leafs turned around and went up ice with similar numbers as Joffrey Lupul found Connolly with a nice pass for a goal 1:39 into OT.

Lupul, Matthew Lombardi and Jake Gardiner also scored for the Maple Leafs (29-23-6), who had been outscored 10-1 in their previous two contests.

Ben Eager, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle replied for the Oilers (22-28-6), who saw a four-game home winning streak come to an end.

It didn't take the Maple Leafs long to get their many supporters at Rexall Place going as they scored on the game's first shot just 41 seconds in. Lupul used defender Ladislav Smid as a screen and sent his 23rd of the season through the legs of goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin.

Less than a minute later it was a 2-0 Toronto lead as Cody Franson sprung Lombardi in on a breakaway and he sent a backhand shot past Khabibulin, causing Edmonton to take a time out before the game was two minutes old.

The tactic paid off quickly as Edmonton cut the lead to one goal at the 2:32 mark when Lennart Petrell stole a puck from behind the net and fed it in front to Eager, who drilled a shot past Toronto starter James Reimer.

Tempers flared shortly after as Eager unloaded on Mike Brown in a one-sided scrap.

The first period remained wide open but stayed at 2-1 through 20 minutes.

Edmonton tied the game 2-2 eight minutes into the second when Sam Gagner threw a puck on net that went through Dion Phaneuf's legs to Hall, who tipped in his 20th of the season.

Khabibulin had to come up big to keep it a tied game with five minutes left in the second when Cam Barker coughed the puck up in front of the Edmonton net and the Oiler goalie bailed him out with a big save in tight on Tyler Bozak.

Edmonton outshot Toronto 13-3 in the second period.

The Oilers almost went up 3-2 in the opening minute of the third but Ales Hemsky rang his second shot off the post.

The Leafs regained the lead seven minutes into the third period on just the second power play of the entire game when Gardiner got everything on a shot from the point to make it 3-2.

However, Edmonton would knot the game back up with four minutes on the clock as Eberle fought off David Steckel and picked the top corner on Reimer for his 25th of the year to send the game to the eventual overtime session.

The Oilers play again on Friday when they host Colorado. The Leafs close out their three-game trip in Vancouver on Saturday.

Notes: It was the second and final of two meetings this season. The Maple Leafs doubled up the Oilers 6-3 at Air Canada Centre earlier in February. ... Toronto was coming off a 5-1 loss on Tuesday in Calgary in the first half of a two-games-in-two-nights swing through Alberta. ... Oilers defenceman Corey Potter has missed the last few practices and is sidelined with a groin issue, paving the way for Barker's return to the line-up. ... First overall draft pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is skating but has yet to begin full practices for Edmonton, expected to be out for at least another week. Despite a pair of shoulder injuries, Nugent-Hopkins remains just two points back of New Jersey's Adam Henrique in the rookie scoring race with 35 points in 40 games. ... Toronto defenceman Carl Gunnarsson (ankle) is on injured reserve. His place was taken by recent call-up Keith Aulie. ... Fellow Leafs defender Luke Schenn was a surprise healthy scratch after taking the pre-game skate.

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