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Kessel's Hat Trick Leads Leafs Over Senators

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
TORONTO -- Phil Kessel had a hat trick Saturday as the Toronto Maple Leafs survived a furious Ottawa comeback to hang on for a 6-5 victory over the Senators.

Mikhail Grabovski, Joffrey Lupul and Colton Orr also scored for Toronto (2-0-0). James Reimer made 27 saves for the win.

Kessel finished added an assist, while Lupul had two of his own.

Daniel Alfredsson scored twice for the Senators (0-2-0), who trailed 5-1 midway through the third period. Colin Greening, Jason Spezza and Stephane Da Costa, with his first in the NHL, had the other goals for Ottawa. Erik Karlsson chipped in with three assists.

Alex Auld took the loss in relief for Ottawa after allowing two goals on 11 shots in relief in the third period. Craig Anderson started and gave up four goals on 20 shots through two periods.

Alfredsson made it a 5-2 at 11:04 of the third with a short-handed breakaway goal after taking a clearing attempt coming out of the penalty box.

The Senators then struck for a pair of power-play goals. Spezza scored at 15:36 and Alfredsson got his second of the game on a neat deflection eight seconds later.

Kessel replied for the Leafs with his third of the game at 17:41, snapping a shot over Auld's glove hand on a 2-on-1 rush.

But Ottawa struck back when Da Costa took a feed from Karlsson and scored at 18:06.

The Senators pulled Auld for an extra attacker but couldn't quite complete the comeback as the Air Canada Centre crowd breathed a huge sigh of relief at the final buzzer.

Ottawa came out strong to open the game, but it was Toronto that took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.

The Leafs opened the scoring on the power play at 12:58. Nikolai Kulemin picked up the puck at the hash marks along the boards and fed Grabovski, who fired a shot past Anderson from the slot for his first of the season.

It was Toronto's first power-play goal of the season after going 0-for-4 in Thursday's 2-0 win over Montreal.

Then with 1:09 to go in the period, Kessel got his first of the campaign when he took a pass in the slot from Lupul and beat Anderson over the glove.

The intensity between the provincial rivals picked up in the second period.

Dion Phaneuf drew a crowd of Senators after he delivered a huge hit on Da Costa cutting into the middle of the ice, knocking his helmet off. Phaneuf wasn't assessed a penalty for the hit.

After the hit, Chris Neil went looking for retribution and gave Luke Schenn a beating in a one-sided fight. Neil got 19 minutes in penalties for starting the fight and the Leafs capitalized at 7:56 with another power-play goal.

John-Michael Liles' shot from the point was deflected past Anderson by Lupul.

Toronto took a 4-0 lead into the second intermission when Kessel scored his second of the game after taking a nifty pass from Tyler Bozak and deking around Anderson.

The Leafs' top line of Lupul, Bozak and Kessel finished with eight points.

Anderson was lifted for Auld to start what would turn out to be a wild third period, which featured seven goals in a desperate comeback attempt by the Senators.

Ottawa finally got on the board at 1:42 when Greening slipped a shot through Reimer. The goal ended Reimer's shutout streak at 101:42 to open the season.

But Toronto struck right back just over a minute later when Orr got his first of the season, swatting in the rebound past Auld off a Mike Brown shot.

It was Orr's first regular-season game since he suffered a concussion Jan. 20 during a fight with George Parros of the Anaheim Ducks.

Toronto went 2-for-9 with the man advantage, while Ottawa wound up 2-for-8.

Notes: The Senators lost their season opener 5-3 in Detroit on Friday. ... Orr took Jay Rosehill's spot in the lineup for Toronto. ... Ottawa plays back-to-back games 16 times this season. ... The Maple Leafs started the season tied for the second youngest roster (26.3) in the league behind the Nashville Predators. ... The Leafs have a week off until they play again when the Calgary Flames come to town next Saturday. The Senators return to Ottawa for their home opener Tuesday against the Minnesota Wild. ... Announced attendance was 19,324.
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