TORONTO - Mitch Marner scored 19 seconds into overtime as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the New York Rangers 3-2 on Wednesday night.
Pontus Holmberg and Timothy Liljegren had the goals in regulation for Toronto (30-11-8). Ilya Samsonov stopped 26 shots.
Filip Chytil had both goals for New York (26-14-8). Igor Shesterkin made 31 saves.
Marner wove his way past all three Rangers skaters in the 3-on-3 extra period after Toronto won the faceoff at centre before tucking his 18th goal of the season past an outstretched Shesterkin.
Down 1-0 after the first, Chytil got New York even at 2:10 of the second on a sneaky faceoff play.
The Rangers centre squared off against David Kampf on the offensive zone draw, but instead of trying to win the draw back to a teammate, he fired the puck toward a surprised Samsonov with a shot through the pads for his 14th.
Chytil then gave the visitors - who beat Toronto 3-1 at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 15 - their first lead at 6:31 when Kaapo Kakko fired a slick pass to his linemate for him to snap home his second of the night.
Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe kept the Marner-Auston Matthews and John Tavares-William Nylander combinations intact Wednesday after reuniting the duos after Monday's flat first period against the New York Islanders, but didn't get the same spark as in that 5-2 victory.
New York had a terrific chance to go up 3-1 on a power play early in the third, but Chris Kreider flubbed a sure goal at the side of Samsonov's net.
Toronto started to push as the period wore on and finally beat Shesterkin, who won last season's Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top netminder, when Liljegren scored his fourth with 4:11 left in regulation on a broken play.
Tavares then rattled the crossbar in the dying seconds for the home side.
The Leafs jumped out to a 1-0 lead 2:27 into the first - a chunk of the late-arriving crowd had yet to take their seats due to a winter storm that blanketed Toronto - when Holmberg moved in alone on Shesterkin and backhanded his fifth of the campaign.
Samsonov, who entered Scotiabank Arena at 13-0-1 in 2022-23, made his best stop of the period five minutes before the intermission with a desperation stick save on K'Andre Miller from in tight.
GALLANT BACKS LAFFY
Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant said Wednesday morning he's been happy with winger Alexis Lafreniere's response to being made a healthy scratch Dec. 29. The first pick at the 2020 NHL draft had a goal and set up another in Monday's 6-2 victory over Florida after registering just two assists in his previous nine games. “He's a 21-year-old kid,” Gallant said. “Sometimes they need a little kick in the butt to get going again. He's been excellent.”
Rangers winger Will Cuylle made his NHL debut in his hometown. Selected 60th overall in 2020, the 20-year-old has 13 goals and 20 points in 39 AHL games this season. Cuylle is the first Toronto native to debut in Toronto for a team other than the Leafs since Kirk Tomlinson of the Minnesota North Stars on Feb. 24, 1988.
MORNING SKATE MUSINGS
Toronto held a lightly attended optional morning skate, but veteran defenceman Mark Giordano - as he usually is - was out getting loose. “It's a balance,” the 39-year-old explained. “You want to get into a good rhythm during the season. But for me, it's just picking my spots.”
Keefe added the fact so few regulars were on the ice for what has largely become a dated tradition was an indication of energy levels within his group. “You really want to put it on them in terms of what they need,” said the coach. “The morning skate is optional. The game is mandatory. We need them to be ready to go for that. They know their bodies. They know what they need.”
Leafs: Host Ottawa on Friday.
Rangers: Host Vegas on Friday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2023.