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Maple Leafs get first win by routing Rangers

by Dan Rosen

NEW YORK -- Maybe the Toronto Maple Leafs just needed to get out of Toronto to get their game in order.

The Maple Leafs beat the New York Rangers 6-3 at Madison Square Garden on Sunday because they played with speed and with the puck, dominated on special teams and got a solid performance from their No. 2 goalie. Basically, they beat the Rangers for their first win of the season because they did everything they didn't do well enough in losses to the Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins at Air Canada Centre.

The Maple Leafs were even good enough to chase Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist from the game late in the second period. Lundqvist allowed six goals on 24 shots before he was replaced by Cam Talbot with 4:47 to play in the period.

Toronto scored five goals on Lundqvist in a span of 9:54 in the second period to take a 6-2 lead.

"We faced a goaltender that does not have many bad nights…he's a pretty good goalie that did not have his best night," Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said.

Toronto goalie James Reimer, making his first start after watching Jonathan Bernier play in the first two games, made 24 saves before leaving with 13:17 to play in the third period. He was hit in the head by Rangers center Dominic Moore while reaching for the puck at the side of the net.

Bernier replaced Reimer, who still picked up his first win since April 3 -- which was after Toronto lost eight in a row to fall out of the Stanley Cup Playoff race in the Eastern Conference.

Reimer said he's fine and that he didn't want to come out of the game, but he had to.

"We have protocols to come out; err on the side of caution, I guess," Reimer said. "I was feeling good and I felt like I was stopping pucks, but our trainer's job is to ensure the safety of the players and enforce the protocols in place."

Toronto's first-line wings James van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel, without a point in the first two games, each scored a goal and combined for five points. Kessel's goal came on the power play. Van Riemsdyk scored his on a shorthanded breakaway.

Maple Leafs defenseman Cody Franson, who didn't play in the first two games because of a knee injury, got Toronto started with a power-play goal at 7:45 in the first period. He added an assist.

Toronto was 2-for-4 on the power play and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill, along with van Riemsdyk's shorthanded goal. The Maple Leafs were 3-for-8 on the power play in their first two games, but they allowed three power-play goals to the Penguins in a 5-2 loss Saturday.

Toronto also got goals from Tyler Bozak, Nazem Kadri and David Clarkson, who scored his first of the season.

"Franson's goal was a big goal that got us going," Carlyle said. "It was nice to see him come back and make a contribution and you win. All of those things are positives."

In building a 6-2 lead through two periods, Toronto had a 30-23 advantage in shots on goal and 46-42 edge in total shot attempts. The Maple Leafs were outshot 41-25 and out-attempted 71-52 by Pittsburgh. They were outshot 32-27 by the Canadiens in a 4-3 loss this past Wednesday.

The Rangers didn't have any answers, during the game or after it.

"I'm not quite sure what happened in the second," coach Alain Vigneault said. "Every opportunity seemed to find the back of the net. Every opportunity seemed to be a grade A scoring chance. We don't have a reason or an explanation right now."

Lundqvist took part of the blame.

"I have to be better, but there is a combination of things we need to go over," he said.

Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh blamed New York's struggles on the players not being in sync with each other, a problem that they also had Saturday in a 5-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"We're trying to find our game, find our rhythm," McDonagh said. "It's there in spurts, very little spurts, but as a whole we need everybody to get in sync here."

Defenseman Dan Girardi said it felt like the Maple Leafs were constantly attacking because the Rangers couldn't sustain a forecheck. He said the Rangers had the same problem Saturday at Columbus.

"I feel like when one thing happens the rest of us now we're losing confidence, playing on our heels, not making smart, quick decisions on our toes," Girardi said. "If we're going to get beat we might as well get beat being strong on the puck or making a play and going as hard as you can instead of sitting back and waiting to see what happens."

The one piece of good news for New York is Rick Nash stayed hot despite not being able to finish the game. Nash scored his fourth goal of the season before leaving after the second period to be with his wife for the birth of the couple's first child. Nash's wife went into labor during the game, Vigneault said.

Lee Stempniak and Derick Brassard also scored for the Rangers.

"You can't point fingers at anybody in particular," Vigneault said. "If there is a team loss, this is one of them. From heads down we didn't perform or executive well with or without the puck."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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