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Maple Leafs end 11-game losing streak, top Oilers

by Mike Brophy

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs ended an 11-game losing streak with a 5-1 win against the Edmonton Oilers at Air Canada Centre on Saturday.

James Reimer made 31 saves for Toronto (23-27-4), whose previous win was Jan. 9 against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"It feels really good, that feeling at the end of the game when you have battled for 60 minutes and you're able to come out with a win -- especially after the adversity we have faced -- it's a good feeling," Reimer said. "It's a relief, and you feel really good about yourself. I thought right from the get-go we came out to play."

Reimer got the start after No. 1 goalie Jonathan Bernier was unable to play because of illness, and he won after eight consecutive losses. Reimer's prior victory was Dec. 14, a 4-3 shootout win against the Los Angeles Kings.

Edmonton (14-30-9) has lost two straight. Luke Gazdic spoiled Reimer's shutout with his first goal of the season with less than 3 seconds remaining.

"I think the guys were fighting hard, especially in the final 10 minutes when the game is out of hand and the only thing you are playing for is the shutout," Reimer said. "It's too bad we didn't get it, but that is a team stat. Obviously we're just happy with the win. The guys wanted to get the shutout for me, but we'll save that for another night."

The Maple Leafs are 2-11-1 under coach Peter Horachek, who replaced Randy Carlyle on Jan. 7.

"Some of those games we felt like we should have won, and we did it to ourselves, so this is a good feeling," Horachek said. "All four lines I thought played pretty well. We got a little loose at times when we got the lead. I thought the guys wanted a bigger lead, and sometimes that is good, but you've got to keep playing the same way. Reimer made some big saves."

The Maple Leafs opened the second period on a power play and had a few chances early; Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak were stopped by goalie Viktor Fasth in tight.

With Edmonton's Matt Fraser off for holding, Richard Panik scored a power-play goal from the slot on a shot that barely made it over the goal line at 8:56.

The Maple Leafs took a 2-0 lead when Kessel's long shot through a crowd fooled Fasth at 10:34. It was Kessel's 21st goal of the season.

The Oilers had an opportunity when Jordan Eberle broke in alone from center ice, but he hit the post at 12:56. Less than a minute later, Toronto defenseman Morgan Rielly scored after carrying the puck the length of the ice and beating Fasth with a snap shot at 13:26. His fifth goal of the season was unassisted.

Toronto's Mike Santorelli made it 4-0 39 seconds into the third period when he broke in off the right boards and snapped a high shot to the far side of the net past Fasth for his 11th goal of the season. Santorelli had a chance to add to his total six minutes later when he broke in alone, but he was stopped by Fasth.

Peter Holland broke in alone, deked to his backhand and lifted a high shot past Fasth for his ninth goal of the season to make it 5-0 at 9:58. It was Holland's first goal since Dec. 20.

The Maple Leafs got their third breakaway of the third period, but Kessel was stopped by Fasth at 10:43.

The Oilers, 5-14-7 on the road this season, play their next five games away from home.

"There was a lot of standing around, especially in the defensive zone," Edmonton captain Andrew Ference said. "It was unbelievable how much gliding there was and letting them have extra seconds to make plays. We're moving quicker in (the dressing room) now than we did on the ice."

Ference said the fact the Maple Leafs entered the game on a long losing streak shouldn't have had an effect on how the Oilers played.

"It doesn't matter how long the streak is, you are playing an NHL game," Ference said. "You don't judge a team by how they have done the past couple of weeks, whether it is win a whole bunch of games or lose a whole bunch of games. You're playing against good players and you have to do your job. We didn't do that and they took full advantage of that."

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