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Coyotes end their losing streak, extend Maple Leafs'

by Mike Brophy / NHL.com

TORONTO -- The Arizona Coyotes scored three unanswered goals in the third period to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 at Air Canada Centre on Thursday.

Arizona (17-25-6) ended a seven-game losing streak.

Toronto (22-24-4) has lost eight in a row and is 3-15-1 in its past 19 games.

With the Maple Leafs leading 1-0 and starting the third period on a power play, the Coyotes got a huge break.

Toronto's Tyler Bozak pushed the puck ahead on the faceoff and it went to Arizona defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. He lofted the puck down the ice from his blue line and the shot caught Toronto goalie Jonathan Bernier napping, going into the bottom corner of the net at 5 seconds.

"I saw we had about 23 seconds left on the penalty kill, and when I got the puck, I just shot it down the ice," Ekman-Larsson said. "It's hard for the goalie to save it."

Ekman-Larsson, in his fifth NHL season, said he has never scored a goal like that in his career.

"There is a first time for everything," he said.

The Coyotes took a 2-1 lead at 3:47 when Martin Hanzal slipped a low shot from a sharp angle past Bernier. It was Hanzal's eighth goal of the season.

Toronto coach Peter Horachek didn't beat around the bush when asked about the goals that put the Maple Leafs behind.

"I thought our guys were in a position to get over that hump and get it done, and obviously that is pretty hard to take," Horachek said. "The next goal was a little bewildering because both goals I think were bad goals, one from the goal line and one from their blue line."

Asked how much has to go wrong for a goal like the first one to go in, Horachek said, "Maybe he's not set; maybe he doesn't see it and thinks it is being dumped in along the wall, which is usually the case. The puck kind of went high and knuckled and dropped down. But you can't give yourself excuses. You've got to say that is his job and he's got to have that."

With Toronto right wing David Clarkson off for roughing, Arizona center Sam Gagner scored his eighth of the season at 16:30.

Phil Kessel scored his 20th goal of the season at 16:33 of the first period to give the Maple Leafs a 1-0 lead. Sent in alone on a pass from James van Riemsdyk, Kessel's snap shot was partially stopped by Arizona goalie Mike Smith, but the puck trickled in for Kessel's first goal in eight games and his third in 19.

It was the second night in a row the Maple Leafs held a 1-0 lead in the third period only to lose. They were defeated 2-1 in a shootout by the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday.

"[The Coyotes are] not the type of team that is going to go wide open, and they were here rested and waiting for us (to return from New Jersey)," Horachek said. "We knew it wasn't going to be a wide-open situation. Even when they scored that second goal we had some great chances to tie it up again. We've got to find ways to get things done."

Arizona outshot Toronto 45-25.

"After the second period we felt we deserved a better fate in the game," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "We had created a lot of chances, and because we got a break in the schedule with them playing [Wednesday] we tried to create as much energy as we could by putting pucks behind them and making them work in their own zone. I like the way our guys competed."

Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul returned to the lineup after missing 11 games with a lower-body injury; Toronto was 1-9-1 without him.

Lupul, who usually plays left wing, played on the right side against the Coyotes. He had 10:30 of ice time. Lupul missed 12 games earlier in the season with a broken bone in his hand.

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