1. Leafs surrender first goal, but get things even thanks to Marner. For the second consecutive game, the Leafs were at a disadvantage first - and on this night, it was as a result of Carolina dominating things in the first half of the opening period. Toronto got outshot 9-1 by the Hurricanes through the first nine minutes of the game, and centre Viktor Rask made the ninth one count when he scored his 15th goal of the season at 8:59.
However, from that point until the first intermission, the Leafs outshot the Canes 8-3 and evened the score on winger Mitch Marner's 17th goal of the year at the 9:52 mark. Marner's linemates Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk each picked up their 30th assist of the season on Marner's goal, which was also his 54th point of the year in his 62nd game.
Video: TOR@CAR: van Riemsdyk fires a wrist shot past Ward
2. Hurricanes retake lead at start of second on power play, but van Riemsdyk snaps shot past Ward to tie it again. The Leafs were called for the first minor penalty of the night at 19:01 of the first when Nikita Zaitsev was sent off for cross-checking, and when the second period resumed, Carolina made Toronto pay when centre Jordan Staal got a piece of a shot from teammate Teuvo Teravainen and the puck deflected past netminder Frederik Andersen 45 seconds into the frame to give the Canes a 2-1 lead.
But once again, the Leafs were resilient in the face of adversity: van Riemsdyk took the puck in the center part of Carolina's zone and moved in deep before snapping it high on goalie Cam Ward and into the net for his 21st goal of the year and a 2-2 tie game. Marner added his 38th assist on the play, and for the third time in the contest - and entering the third period - things were all even on the scoreboard.
3. Babcock confident in Leafs' fourth line. Toronto head coach Mike Babcock spoke at practice Friday in praise of his fourth line of Brian Boyle, Nikita Soshnikov and Matt Martin, a unit he said "reestablished our game a number of times…both in the 'D' zone with good plays, and the 'O' zone with good forechecks and heavy shifts" in the Leafs' 4-2 win over the Flyers Thursday. And Babcock demonstrated his continued belief in that line against Carolina, giving each of the three ample ice time: Boyle finished the night with 12:03; Soshnikov logged 12:12 and Martin had 9:43, and they provided the Buds with a physical presence that also had a handful of offensive opportunities.
Babcock noted his belief in Boyle's line meant the Leafs' other three lines would have their minutes reduced to a degree, but the addition of Boyle to the mix has infused Toronto with more of an edge and all-around danger at the bottom of their forward group, and that's something team management is pleased with.
Video: TOR@CAR: Andersen denies Lindholm while falling down
4. Andersen steps up again with stellar showing in net to help Leafs to extra time. Andersen has consistently been tremendous for the Leafs this season and Saturday's game was no exception, as Toronto was outshot in all three periods and by a 37-25 total and managed just two goals on the veteran. The game would've been much different were it not for Andersen, who was one of the biggest reasons the Buds pushed it to overtime.
Video: TOR@CAR: Rielly beats Ward for game-winner in OT
5. Rielly comes up with game-winner on slick individual effort in OT. Desperate for a victory and the two standings points that come with it, the Leafs matched Carolina's intensity when it counted in the extra period, and blueliner Morgan Rielly netted his fourth goal of the year and the game-winner at 2:13 of OT to pull out the win.
Skating well in the 3-on-3 period, Rielly took the puck behind Carolina's net and curled into the middle of the offensive zone, then wired a wrist shot through Ward's legs to give the visitors the win. Toronto temporarily took hold of the final wild card playoff berth in the Eastern Conference, and though there's still 15 regular-season games for them to play, the Leafs have built up a three-game win streak and head into Tuesday's showdown with the Florida Panthers (who've dropped four straight games) with momentum and confidence.