TORONTO – John Tavares scored twice as part of a four-goal barrage in the second period as the Toronto Maple Leafs roared back from a 3-1 deficit to down the Edmonton Oilers 7-4 on Saturday.
Mitch Marner had a goal and three assists for Toronto (40-17-8), while William Nylander and Auston Matthews each scored and set up another. Tavares added an assist for a three-point night and Noel Acciari had the other two goals, including into the empty net, for the Leafs. Matt Murray made 22 saves.
Connor McDavid replied with his NHL-best 55th goal of the season and added two assists for Edmonton (36-23-8). Leon Draisailt, Evander Kane and Mattias Ekholm also scored for the Oilers. Stuart Skinner stopped 31 shots. Evan Bouchard and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins chipped in with two assists each.
Down 3-1 in the second, the Leafs kick-started their comeback when Marner intercepted a Ryan McLeod pass in front of Edmonton’s net before beating Skinner with his 24th goal of the campaign.
Marner then stole another puck – this time off Vincent Desharnais – to feed Nylander for his 34th that tied the game 3-3.
Tavares made it 4-3 to complete a three-goal outburst in exactly three minutes after he and Matthews forced another turnover out of Darnell Nurse.
The Leafs went to the power play late in the period, and Tavares scored his second of the period and 30th overall for a 5-3 advantage through 40 minutes.
A feisty night on the ice finally boiled over eight minutes into the third when Kane and Michael Bunting were involved in a prolonged wrestling match in Edmonton’s end.
Toronto got a power play that saw Matthews score his 30th before Draisaitl replied with his 42nd on another man advantage. Acciari then iced it into the empty net late.
Held off the scoresheet for just the seventh time this season in Thursday’s 3-2 victory over Boston, McDavid grabbed the early headlines in his first-ever Saturday night game at Scotiabank Arena with fans in attendance.
The league leader in goals, assists and points put the Oilers ahead 3-1 early in the second after being whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct with Matthews.
Edmonton’s captain exited the penalty box and took a pass in the neutral zone before cutting into the middle and firing through Murray’s pads to add to his career-high goal and point totals.
Toronto opened the scoring three minutes into the first when Acciari scored his 12th – and second with the Leafs since arriving in the Ryan O’Reilly deal with St. Louis – on a rebound.
Acquired before the NHL trade deadline from Nashville, Ekholm blasted his first with Edmonton and sixth overall just 22 seconds later.
Kane then made it 2-1 in his second game back from a rib injury with his 10th on a wraparound after Murray overcommitted on a rush chance.
Jack Campbell made his return to Toronto after bolting for Edmonton in free agency last summer, but spent his evening on the bench.
A member of the Leafs for parts of three seasons, the veteran goaltender brought into be the Oilers’ No. 1 option has struggled in 2022-23.
Campbell, who is 17-9-4 with a .882 save percentage and a 3.57 goals-against average, received a nice ovation from the crowd during a first-period TV timeout.
“The city really embraced me during my time here,” the 31-year-old said before the game. “And there were other great memories – things I’ll cherish my whole life.”
Saturday marked the first home game as members of the Leafs for forward Sam Lafferty and defencemen Jake McCabe and Erik Gustafsson after the trio was added ahead of the trade deadline.
Luke Schenn, meanwhile, will have to wait a little longer for his first game back at Scotiabank Arena.
The blue-liner, who played for Toronto from 2008 to 2012, is in Vancouver awaiting the birth of his third child.
The superstar’s homecoming is always a big event.
But the native of nearby Newmarket, Ont., didn’t have to secure nearly as many tickets when compared to past visits.
“Most of my family’s moved away,” McDavid said following Friday’s practice. “And I got buddies that are out and abroad. My brother’s away as well.
“Not a lot of people circled it on their calendar, I guess.”
Leafs: Host Buffalo on Monday.
Oilers: Host Ottawa on Tuesday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 11, 2023.