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Komarov shows off grit and skill to lead Maple Leafs past Rangers

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

TORONTO - Even if they haven't fixed some of the defensive issues that have been their undoing, the Toronto Maple Leafs still have the offensive firepower to compensate.

Buoyed by two-point performances from Leo Komarov and Nazem Kadri, the Leafs beat the New York Rangers 5-4 Saturday night at Air Canada Centre in an entertaining, back-and-forth affair.

In addition to Komarov, who scored the game-winner, the Leafs (7-5-2) got goals from Phil Kessel, Peter Holland, Richard Panik and Roman Polak.

Goaltender Jonathan Bernier stopped 31 of the 35 shots the Rangers (6-5-2) sent his way. Rangers backup Cam Talbot finished with 26 saves.

Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello, Carl Hagelin and Rick Nash scored for New York, which hosts the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday.

The Leafs travel to Ottawa to face the Senators on Sunday in the game that was postponed following the Oct. 22 shootings on Parliament Hill.

With the Leafs just back from a two-game Western Conference road trip, it didn't take long for them to fall behind.

Just 53 seconds in to his season debut, Derek Stepan beat Holland on a faceoff to give the Rangers possession. Zuccarello tipped Kevin Klein's shot from the point past Bernier to make it 1-0 Rangers.

Penalties to New York's Conor Allen (roughing) and Carl Hagelin (hooking) put Toronto on a five-on-three power play for 1:38. It only took 36 seconds for James van Riemsdyk to find Kessel with a cross-crease pass for his eighth goal of the season.

That tied the score at 1 at the 8:27 mark of the first. The scoring was far from over.

With the Leafs killing a penalty later in the first, Komarov almost single-handedly created the Leafs' second short-handed goal of the season. Komarov got in the passing lane just inside the blue-line and took the puck from Matt Hunwick in the neutral zone before muscling it up the ice and fighting off Zuccarello.

Komarov found Holland streaking toward the net for the goal at 15:11 to make it 2-1.

A few minutes later at 18:59, Panik scored on a rebound to make the Leafs' lead 3-1. It was Panik's second goal in as many games, this time promoted to the second line amid a handful of injuries.

The Rangers cut it to 3-2 with 39.9 seconds left in the first when Kreider's shot went five-hole on Bernier.

Bernier made a superb pad save on Zuccarello early in the second after emergency call-up Josh Leivo turned the puck over from behind the goal-line. There wasn't much he could do on New York's tying goal.

At the 17:44 mark of the second, Stephane Robidas and Jake Gardiner combined for a bad-bounce blunder. Robidas' pass deflected off Gardiner's skate to Dominic Moore and then pinballed to Hagelin, who finished the golden opportunity.

The goal was Hagelin's 100th career point.

Nash took advantage of porous net-front coverage to put the Rangers ahead 4:33 into the third. With the first line of van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak and Kessel and the defensive pairing of Morgan Rielly and Polak on the ice, Nash was wide open and had an empty net to put the puck into.

That was Nash's 11th goal of the season, tying Corey Perry of the Anaheim Ducks for the league lead.

It took only until the 7:27 mark for the Leafs to get even again. With David Clarkson screening Talbot, Polak fired away from the point and scored his second of the season.

Komarov's first of the season at 14:26 capped off his impressive night. Gardiner waited out the defence and fed it to an open Komarov, who made it 5-4 and ignited the crowd of 19,320.

With the two-point night, Komarov matched his career high in points (nine) in just the 14th game of the season.

Notes — The Leafs saluted several veterans prior to the game in advance of Remembrance Day. James Dewar of the 48th Highlanders performed "Amazing Grace" on bagpipes before Scotty Newlands performed a stirring rendition of "O Canada." ... During the first period Johnny Bower was honoured on his 90th birthday. The Leafs legend received a framed print signed by players from both teams. ... Leafs forward Daniel Winnik was held out after falling headfirst Thursday night in Colorado. Coach Randy Carlyle said the team was following league and NHLPA protocol. ... Morgan Rielly returned to the Leafs' lineup after being a healthy scratch at the Avalanche. He replaced Stuart Percy. ... Kessel was playing in his 600th career NHL game and David Clarkson his 500th.


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