MONTREAL (Reuters) - Phil Kessel inspired the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 5-4 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, the right winger scoring twice and assisting on two more goals in the thrilling road win.
“Phil can pass the puck if he so chooses, but he’s a shooter and he likes to shoot all the time,” Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson told reporters. “But he had his two goals, so he decided at that point to start passing.”
Kessel scored back-to-back powerplay goals in the first period to wipe out Jeff Halpern’s opener for the home team, before Brett Lebda scored his first goal for the Leafs to extend Toronto’s lead to 3-1 before the end of the period.
“We’ve been trying to preach not taking so many penalties, and then bang, bang they get a couple of power-play goals,” Wisniewski said of Kessel’s goals.
“We just kind of lost track for five minutes out of the game and it cost us big time tonight.”
The Canadiens fought back, however, and drew level early in the second period on powerplay goals by Mike Cammalleri and James Wisniewski just 20 seconds apart but the Maple Leafs quickly recovered to regain control of the contest.
Tyler Bozak scored the first of his two goals midway through the second, converting a pass from Kessel during a powerplay to restore Toronto’s lead, and the pair combined again early in the third to secure a winning advantage.
Max Pacioretty pulled a goal back for the Canadiens with 2:37 remaining but the visitors held on for victory against their long-time rivals.
Reporting by Mike Mouat in Windsor, Ontario; Editing by John O'Brien