TORONTO - The Maple Leafs hardly looked like a team who hadn’t played in a week coming into their game against Calgary.
Toronto showed little rust Saturday night as Phil Kessel scored two goals in a 3-2 victory over the Flames to stay perfect on the young season.
That gives Kessel five goals so far after he posted a hat-trick in the club’s last game a week ago in Ottawa.
“They’re just going in,”said Kessel.“I have some great linemates and they gave me the puck and we’re just clicking.”
Kessel also assisted on Joffrey Lupul's second-period goal as Toronto (3-0-0) rallied back from a 2-0 deficit. James Reimer made 30 saves in net for the Leafs.
“To get off to this start, it’s huge for us,”said Reimer.“Hopefully we can keep it rolling, stay confident and keep improving in our game. And hopefully when it’s all said and done we’ll have had a pretty good season.”
Curtis Glencross and defenceman Scott Hannan each scored for the Flames (1-3-0) in the first period. It was Glencross' third goal of the season as the Flames were looking to return home with back-to-back wins after dropping their first two games of the season.
“We feel we made some mistakes and that’s a game that we were in pretty good control of and should have found a way to win,”said Flames Captain Jarome Iginla.
Despite Leafs pressure early, the Flames took the lead at 4:18 when Lee Stempniak circled the net and threw the puck at the goal where Glencross redirected it past Reimer.
Calgary doubled its advantage just one minute 22 seconds later as Hannan jumped up on a rush and fired a high knuckleball shot that eluded Reimer. The Toronto goalie didn’t look as though he even saw the puck through the traffic.
“He had no chance on those two goals,”said Leafs head coach Ron Wilson.
The Flames gifted the Leafs a chance to get right back with two penalties a minute and a half apart. But even with the two-man advantage for 30 seconds, Calgary kept them out.
The Leafs started their comeback just over a minute into the second as Kessel found a streaking Lupul whose shot got by Miikka Kiprusoff’s left side.
They were given an opportunity to tie the game when Olli Jokinen was sent to the box for four minutes for a high-sticking call on defenceman John-Michael Liles. Toronto's power play, however, couldn’t muster much on a night both sides went scoreless with the man advantage.
Kessel’s equalizer came after Tyler Bozak broke up a Flames rush. Carl Gunnarsson picked up a loose puck and fed a long pass to the winger on the right side. Kessel then cut in on goal and went high to score his fourth of the season. Bozak finished the night with two assists.
“Right now, we have some guys who aren’t engaged how they need to be at the end of the game and there’s not enough urgency in their game,”said Flames head coach Brent Sutter.“We’ve got to get going here.”
The Leafs got the lead 41 seconds into the third as Kessel threw a pass across the face of the goal that hit a skate and Kiprusoff couldn’t get across the prevent the puck from going in.
There was no signal from the referee about a goal, but the horn sounded and after a brief review the goal stood.
Reimer preserved the win for the leafs with six minutes left, making a handful of close range saves, including one off Nik Hagman and a late save off Rene Bourque in the dying seconds as Calgary pressed late for the equalizer that never came.
“I think I just closed my eyes and screamed a little bit,”said Reimer jokingly on his last-second save on Bourque.“I think it was a pass from behind the net to the guy out in front and I couldn’t really have a good sight of the puck so I just kind of looked for it in the sides.”