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Five Takeaways - Leafs vs. Oilers - 11/01/16

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 3-2 overtime win over the Edmonton Oilers Tuesday at Air Canada Centre:

by Adam Proteau / MapleLeafs.com

Video: EDM@TOR: Brown forces turnover, sets up Kadri

1. Leafs take game's first lead on sweet goal setup by Brown. The Leafs surrendered the first goal in each of their past five games heading into Tuesday's tilt with the Oilers, but that streak ended just 1:29 into the first period, when winger Connor Brown made a terrific pass to centre Nazem Kadri, and Kadri knocked the puck into Edmonton's net for his fourth goal of the season. 

The assist was the first of the year and second point of the year for the 22-year-old Brown, who amassed five helpers and six points in his first seven NHL games with Toronto last season. Playing on a line with Kadri and winger Leo Komarov, Brown is giving the Leafs relentless forechecking, while at the same time having the soft hands and nose for the puck that can create offence in a hurry. Small wonder he's endeared himself to head coach Mike Babcock

2. Late-period breakdown gives Oilers a gift goal heading into first intermission. Toronto's play with the puck was less than ideal for large stretches of the first frame, and Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen had to be sharp to keep his team in the lead. 

Unfortunately, the Buds' defensive breakdowns continued late in the period, and with just 31 seconds left before the first intermission, Andersen got caught trying to play the puck behind his net and turned the puck over and directly out to centre Anton Lander, who fired it into a wide-open Toronto net to tie the score at one goal apiece. The Oilers outshot the Leafs 19-8 in the first, and it was clear Toronto needed to clean up its play and make better decisions with the puck.

 

Video: EDM@TOR: Smith taps in Soshnikov's setup

3. Soshnikov gives Toronto energy, second lead of the night with assist on Smith's goal. After being recalled from the American League's Marlies earlier in the day, winger Nikita Soshnikov showed why the organization is so high on him: he was a one-man energy jolt on the ice, using his robust physical game to get under the Oilers' collective skin - and at the 3:14 mark of the second period, he found teammate Ben Smith with a slick pass that Smith put past Edmonton netminder Cam Talbot to make it 2-1 for the home side. 

The goal was Smith's first of the season, and his third career goal as a Leaf in 21 games. But it was the passion and determination of Soshnikov that stood out. He's a fearless, often-whirling dervish out there, and he makes Toronto tougher to play against. 

4. Oilers continue pressure, tie it up early in third. The Leafs carried their 2-1 lead into the third period, but the Oilers weren't deterred in their efforts to get the puck on net, and blueliner Darnell Nurse's shot from the point eluded Andersen at the 8:38 mark to even things up at 2-2. 

Edmonton would finish the game with a whopping 46 shots - far more than the 30.2 Toronto allowed to opponents on average prior to Tuesday - which simply isn't acceptable and is an indication of how much pressure the visitors applied, and how thoroughly they won puck battles in open ice and along the boards to gain possession.

 

Video: EDM@TOR: Kadri nets game-winner 12 seconds into OT

5. Kadri caps off excellent all-around night with overtime winner. Kadri did an exceptional job all night playing defense against Oilers wunderkind Connor McDavid, keeping the young star off the scoresheet altogether. And he was rewarded for his attention to detail away from the puck when he muscled in on McDavid in Edmonton's zone, broke in alone on Talbot, and pushed the puck into the net for the game-winner and his fifth of the year. 

Kadri is one of the more senior members of the Leafs this season and putting forth a solid two-way game is exactly what Babcock & Co. expect out of him. It could hardly have turned out any better for him in that regard Tuesday, and the Leafs now have their third win of the season in large part due to his performance.

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