The Oilers came back from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to tie the game late on a Jordan Eberle
marker, but Toronto's Tim Connolly halted the home side's comeback march, scoring 1:39 into overtime to secure a 4-3 Leafs win Wednesday night at Rexall Place.
Spurred by a thunderous "Go Leafs Go!" chant in the game's opening minute, Toronto cashed the icebreaker just 41 seconds into the game. With the Oilers' D scrambling, Joffrey Lupul scooped up a loose puck down the wing and a snapped a shot through Nikolai Khabibulin
, establishing a 1-0 visitor advantage.
Less than a minute later, Ladislav Smid
and Ryan Whitney
's signals got crossed up, causing a sloppy line change and ensuing breakaway for Toronto's Matthew Lombardi; the speedster bursted in and deked the 'tender backhand, putting the Leafs up by two on the club's third shot.
Needing a spark (and a goal), the Oilers got it 53 seconds after the the blue and white made it 2-0. Following a hard forecheck, Lennart Petrell
beat his man and centered a pass into the slot. Ben Eager
was quick to pounce, hammering the puck into the open cage past James Reimer.
With 15:11 on the clock, the track meet that the Oilers wanted to avoid kept increasing in emotion. So much so, in fact, that Eager and Mike Brown dropped the mitts in what could only be described as complete domination by the orange and blue's No. 55. With each bone-crunching punch, the noise level at Rexall Place continued to rise until Toronto's tough guy crumbled to the ice.
At 15:58, the game's first power-play was awarded when Magnus Paajarvi
picked up a goaltender interference minor, putting the Leafs' 19.1-percent attack to work. The Oilers came up big, denying the visitors' attempt and upholding their standing as the league's 12th-best squad on the kill.
As such, the 2-1 score held until the buzzer. Toronto was also in possession of a slim 14-10 edge in shots.
The Oilers engineered the period's best scoring chances early. Magnus Paajarvi
drove wide and a ripped a shot that clunked Reimer's near post, and Sam Gagner
pulled an inside-out move on the same wing that nearly fooled the netminder short-side, but the game remained in a 2-1 score.
Within minutes, those high-quality chances were converted. At 8:15, Sam Gagner
cut down the far side, pinballed a pass into the slot where Taylor Hall
redirected the puck off his shin and behind Reimer to square the score, 2-2, on the Oilers' 19th shot.
Just beyond the period's midway mark, Ales Hemsky
picked up a loose puck along the boards in the neutral zone, breaking past Cody Franson and in alone on a breakaway. No. 83 picked his spot and released a shot, but his glove-side try caught iron, keeping the game in a 2-2 tie.
While the Oilers were controlling the pace, an unprovoked, careless Cam Barker
giveaway allowed Tyler Bozak to spring in on goal, but Khabibulin stood tall in turning aside the chance.
With 40 minutes expired, the 2-2 draw continued while the home side pulled ahead with a 23-17 lead on the shot clock.
Just 1:30 into the period, the Oilers came within inches of taking the lead, but Hemsky's wide-side wrister rattled the crossbar and stayed out.
With the visitors buzzing and nearly orchestrating the go-ahead goal when Bozak was stopped point-blank, Ryan Jones
got a little too careless with a clearing attempt, scooping the rolling puck out of play and drawing a delay of game minor. 10 seconds into the power-play, rookie Jake Gardiner ripped a bullet under the bar on Khabibulin to put Toronto ahead 3-2 at 6:46.
With 9:54 to play, shortly after the Leafs had gotten away with a hook on Ladislav Smid
, Andy Sutton
was charged with tripping, putting Toronto's 1-for-2 man-advantage to the ice. Lupul negated the power-play 1:01 in, sending the teams into a 4-on-4 situation before the Oilers got an abbreviated advantage of their own.
The home side was unable to register a shot, carrying the one-goal disadvantage into the game's waning moments.
But the Oilers didn't waver. With only 4:04 to play, Jordan Eberle
squared the score once more. The sophomore stripped David Steckel, who was unable to clear the zone, took a step into the slot and snapped a wrister upstairs that eluded a motionless Reimer for the goal.
At 17:52, the Oilers got another power-play -- a full one, this time -- when Darryl Boyce was assessed a hooking minor. The home side was unable to muster much of consequence, sending the game to extra time.
The Oilers got the period's best chance when they broke up ice on a 3-on-1 opportunity, but a pass back to the trailer, Ryan Whitney
, was broken up and turned back the other way. With the visitors striking on a 3-on-1 themselves, Lupul sent a cross-crease feed to Tim Connolly who buried the game-winning goal.