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Marner nets OT winner to lift Leafs past Flames


TORONTO – Although Mitch Marner was the hero on Saturday, he shared the spotlight with William Nylander.

Marner scored the game-winning goal 43 seconds into overtime to push the Toronto Maple Leafs past the Calgary Flames 5-4 and extend his franchise-record point streak to 22 games. Nylander, meanwhile, enjoyed a five-point night, including two goals and an assist on Marner’s winner.

Only 29 games old into the season, the 26-year-old Nylander has scored 17 times, halfway to his career-high 34 goals from just a season ago.

“Obviously, tonight he carries our team and is basically the reason we get two points,” said Maple Leafs goaltender Matt Murray, who made 22 saves.

“He’s just a stud. He’s incredibly gifted. He works hard. I’ve said this a bunch of times, but he just seems to win a ton of 50/50 battles. That goes to his strength and his dedication to win those battles.”

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Nylander pinned his solid play on his skating.

“That’s the most important thing for me and helping me create space and get chances out there,” he said.

The win was the Maple Leafs’ (18-5-6) eighth in nine outings but only their second in eight overtime games this season. Meanwhile, the Flames (13-11-4) have dropped two straight.

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With Nylander playing alongside Auston Matthews, who had a goal and an assist, and Marner moving to a line with captain John Tavares, Toronto has piled up victories in the last month.

They have gone 11-0-3 and haven’t lost in regulation time since a 4-2 defeat to the Pittsburgh Penguins at home on Nov. 11.

“[Nylander] still has a long way to go in terms of fulfilling his potential,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “I think he can and will be in that top-tier of players.”

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Marner, who picked up an assist on Nylander’s first goal, has 10 goals and 20 assists in his 22-game run. His winner came on the power play after Calgary’s Jonathan Huberdeau took a high-sticking penalty on the opening faceoff of the extra period.

Early in the first period, Murray made a shoulder save on a Blake Coleman short-handed breakaway. Toronto then went the other way at 5:04 of the frame for the game’s opening goal from Matthews on an early power play.

It was his sixth goal in seven games.

However, a Matthews turnover inside the Flames’ blue line led to a tying goal from Calgary defenceman Noah Hanifin 9:13 into the first period.

It was the first goal allowed by the Maple Leafs in 129:13 after Murray and backup Ilya Samsonov posted back-to-back shutouts earlier this week.

Marner failed to close in time on a trailing Nazem Kadri before the former Toronto centre put Calgary in front 2-1 at 12:52 of the first.

Toronto drew even with another power-play goal at 17:10 of the frame. This time, Nylander’s wrist shot beat goaltender Dan Vladar, who made 29 saves on the night. Marner made a short pass to Rasmus Sandin, who found his fellow Swede for his second assist of the first period.

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The Flames snatched the lead for the second time 11:11 into the middle frame. Mikael Backlund hit the post, but fourth-liner Trevor Lewis lassoed the rebound to score.

Calgary was the better team in the second period, but Matthews bailed out the Leafs late in the frame. He forced a turnover behind the Flames goal, and the puck squirted out to a wide-open Nylander for his second of the night.

A harmless shot from Hanifin was bobbled by Murray and snuck through his pads for a power-play goal, giving Calgary a 4-3 lead at 3:31 of the third period.

But Michael Bunting knocked in a rebound off the end boards to tie the game for a fourth time less than three minutes later, and eventually send it to overtime.

ROBERTSON OUT

The Maple Leafs announced Nick Robertson would miss the next six to eight weeks with a shoulder injury suffered against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday. To take his place, Joey Anderson was recalled from the AHL’s Toronto Marlies for his season debut with the Maple Leafs.

UP NEXT

Calgary concludes its three-game road trip with a visit to Montreal to play the Canadiens on Monday.

The Maple Leafs finish their three-game homestand against the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 10, 2022.

&copy 2022 The Canadian Press





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