TORONTO (AP)John Tavares scored two of the four goals in the second period as the Toronto Maple Leafs roared back to down the Edmonton Oilers 7-4 on Saturday night.
Mitchell Marner had a goal and three assists for Toronto, while William Nylander and Auston Matthews each scored and had an assist. 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.
“You just feel it in the atmosphere in the crowd and everything,” Matthews, who went toe-to-toe with Connor McDavid all night, said of Toronto’s surge in the second that saw the Leafs score four times in just under six minutes.
“There’s that little momentum switch. Good on us to take it and just run with it.”
Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe could sense his stars were up for McDavid’s challenge.
“I wanted to go with the Matthews-McDavid matchup straight up,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for us to take the puck out of his hands and play on offense, and try to make him have to defend. I thought those guys were really focused.”
“Always fun going against great players,” Matthews added. ”(McDavid’s) at the top of our game.”
McDavid replied with his NHL-best 55th goal of the season and added two assists for Edmonton. Leon Draisaitl, 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.
“This one was a game that we could have done better with,” Edmonton coach Jay Woodcroft said. “When you make mistakes against teams that can hurt you, you’re made to pay.
“Tonight we were made to pay.”
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 Nick Bjugstad – 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.
“You want to approach the game the same,” Tavares said of tangling with McDavid. “But I think you do recognize what’s on the other side.”
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.
Saturday marked the first home game as members of the Leafs for forward Sam Lafferty and defensemen 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.
Oilers: Host Ottawa on Tuesday night in the opener of a two-game homestand.
Maple Leafs: Host Buffalo on Monday night in the second of a four-game homestand.
AP NHL: https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://www.twitter.com/AP-Sports