Oilers rally to beat Maple Leafs for 11th straight win
EDMONTON — The streak has survived another tough test.
The Oilers have trailed in seven of their 11 victories during the current streak.
“It was a massive two points. We stuck with it through the whole 60 minutes again, down going into the third,” said Oilers goalie Stuart Skinner, who made 25 saves to improve to 15-2 in his last 17 starts.
“It did feel like a playoff game. It was so loud in there. It was a little bit of a reminder of how the playoffs were last year. It makes it a lot of fun. I’m glad we were able to beat Toronto and beat the Toronto fans out there.”
“I thought it was a competitive, good hockey game,” Draisaitl said. “It’s a good team over there, lots of skill and they defend really well actually for how much skill they have. Obviously we showed some composure again and stuck with it, so it’s another huge win for us.”
“Once again, you don’t find a way to win a game when you’ve got a lead and that burns here, especially on a night like this, where I thought our guys played a really good hockey game,” said Toronto head coach Sheldon Keefe.
“They played very hard. Ultimately, when you’re not scoring like we aren’t scoring here in this little stretch, you’ve got to find ways to win 2-1. And that’s tough to do, especially in this building against that team.”
Leafs goalie Martin Jones made 29 stops in the loss.
“Disappointing, obviously, when you lose giving up a lead, but it was a really good game,” Jones said. “We did a lot of good things. The difference is executing on one play at the end of the game. They did and we didn’t.”
Toronto got off to a terrific start to the contest, scoring on its first shift just 27 seconds in. Mitch Marner was able to get a pass across to Matthews, who rifled in his league-leading 34th goal of the season before Skinner could get across the crease.
The Leafs almost added to that lead just over a minute later as Tyler Bertuzzi redirected a shot that rang off the post.
Edmonton outshot Toronto 12-7 in the first period, but couldn't get anything past Jones, including a point-blank opportunity for Connor Brown.
Toronto had another great chance early in the second as William Nylander was sent in on a breakaway, but Skinner got a piece of his shot with his glove and it caromed off the crossbar.
The Maple Leafs hard work was rewarded with nine minutes to play in the second period as Rielly picked up a puck that was pinballing in front of the net and sent it through Skinner’s legs for his seventh.
Edmonton looked to have got that goal back shortly after on a tremendous individual effort by Zach Hyman, but a quick video review determined that the Oilers were offside on the play.
The Oilers finally got on the board with 4:19 remaining in the second frame as Draisaitl sent a bad-angle backhand on net that somehow found its way past Jones and into the net for the Edmonton forward’s 21st goal of the season.
Edmonton tied the game 2:27 into the third as Ryan took a feed from behind the net by McLeod and blasted a one-timer for his fourth goal of the season and 200th career point.
The Oilers then jumped ahead with 3:05 left to play in the third as McLeod circled out from behind the net and was able to deposit his eighth of the season past Jones. Connor McDavid picked up an assist to extend his points streak to 11 games.
Bouchard put the game away with a long empty-netter that barely inched its way over the line, giving him his 11th.
Matthews’ early goal was his fifth career goal in the game's opening minute, tied for the third most in Maple Leafs history. … Marner was elevated to Matthews' right wing, with Nylander moving down to the second line. … The Leafs inserted a pair of players for the game as Bobby McMann returned after missing one game with an undisclosed injury and Mark Giordano came back after being a healthy scratch in Toronto’s previous game. … Returning from illness for Edmonton was forward Ryan McLeod, although he dropped down from the second to the third line, with Evander Kane moving up to take his place. Sam Gagner was still nursing an injury. … Toronto came into the game having allowed four or more goals 19 times this season. … Oiler Mattias Ekholm recorded his 300th career assist.
Maple Leafs: Play the Flames in Calgary on Thursday.
Oilers: Host the Seattle Kraken on Thursday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2024.