Phil Kessel celebratin'.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel celebrates his hat-trick goal against the Anaheim Ducks as the Maple Leafs won 4-2 on Tuesday night at the Air Canada Centre.

It looked bleak early, but the Toronto Maple Leafs battled back from 2-0 down and defeated the smoking-hot Anaheim Ducks 4-2. The Anaheim Ducks had the lead in shots 25-23 for the game.

First Period:

After a hot start by both teams, a good forecheck by Josh Levio draws a penalty on Ben Lovejoy for hooking as the Maple Leafs go to their first power play, however it is killed off by the Ducks. A few minutes after, Ducks forward Kyle Palmieri gets hauled down by Phil Kessel into Jonathan Bernier, but there is no penalty called for some reason. After both teams go back and forth without many chances, Dion Phaneuf takes an interference penalty and now the Maple Leafs will get their first chance at killing a penalty and they succeed as they keep the Ducks’ power play at bay. Both teams continue to go up and down the ice, but neither team can do much of anything as the Maple Leafs had just one shot for the majority of the period. With just over two minutes to go in the first period, Patrick Maroon and Nick Bonino come in on a 2-on-1 and Maroon feeds Bonino who beats Bernier and it’s 1-0 Ducks. The first period comes to an end and the Ducks have the 1-0 lead. The Leafs had just two shots on goal in the period while the Ducks had six.

Second Period:

Just two minutes into the second period, Mathieu Perrault gets the puck behind the red line and is allowed to simply walk in front of the net and he fires a wrist shot by Jonathan Bernier, 2-0 Ducks. Shortly after, Colton Orr draws a Bryan Allen hooking penalty and the Maple Leafs will go to their second power play of the game, but it is killed by Anaheim and they didn’t even allow a shot on goal. Their first real scoring chance comes from Jay McClement as he fires a shot at Jonas Hiller, but Hiller makes a very nice glove save to keep the Ducks’ lead at 2-0. The Leafs get another soon after on a 2-on-1 with Joffrey Lupul and Mason Raymond, as Lupul finds Raymond, but Hiller makes the stop coming across the goal crease. For a third time, the Leafs will have a power play on a very bad boarding call on Corey Perry. The Leafs find the back of the net after Cody Franson’s shot is stopped by Hiller, but James van Riemsdyk grabs the rebound and makes a nice pass that goes between the legs of a pair of Ducks defenders over to a waiting Phil Kessel at the other side of the net and he makes no mistake, 2-1 Ducks. On the next shift, a broken play after Dave Bolland can’t find anyone to pass the puck to on a 3-on-2 that nearly leads to a turnover in the offensive zone but Dion Phaneuf follows it up and beats Hiller, tie game 2-2 as the Leafs score two goals in 79 seconds. The Ducks get a chance to tie it up as PK ace Jay McClement goes off for hooking, and early into the penalty kill, James van Riemsdyk takes a tripping penalty so the Maple Leafs will have to kill a long 5-0n-3. On the penalty kill, Teemu Selanne has a wide-open net, but can’t pull the trigger as a mad scramble in front ensues, but Jonathan Bernier comes up big and keeps the puck out. They eventually kill off both penalties, to big cheers from the ACC crowd. A couple of  minutes later, Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk come in on a 2-on-1 and Kessel out waits Hiller and shoots a beautiful wrist shot by Jonas Hiller, 3-2 Leafs. The second period ends with a scrap between Corey Perry and Carl Gunnarsson, and both take matching roughing penalties as the Leafs will take their 3-2 lead into the third period. Shots in the second period were 10-6 for the Leafs. Huh, imagine that, you take more than two shots on  goal and you actually score! Shocking discovery!

Third Period:

Whilst playing 4-on-4, Mason Raymond rips a shot off the post and it stays out. Many minutes after the 4-0n-4 ends, both teams get chances to score, but both goalies make excellent saves to keep the puck out. A couple of minutes later, James van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel come in on another 2-on-1, this time van Riemsdyk makes a pretty move and finds Kessel who buries it and that’s a hat-trick to make it 4-2 Leafs. The Leafs nearly add to that lead as Dave Bolland, Jay McClement, and Trevor Smith combine for some pretty passing, but Jonas Hiller shuts Smith down. The Ducks get a chance to get back into it after Paul Ranger takes a holding penalty on Kyle Palmieri. Once the penalty is killed, James van Riemsdyk blocks a shot and is off to the races, but he is assaulted by Jakob Silfverberg and he is awarded a penalty shot but van Riemsdyk hits the post and it stays out. A little later, Jakob Silfverberg gets a semi-breakaway of his own, but Jonathan Bernier stops him and covers up the small rebound. Phil Kessel gets a chance at a fourth goal, but decides to pass it to Tyler Bozak but the pass is broken up. The Ducks pull their goalie with over two minutes to go, and get a decent chance, but Bernier stacks the pads and stops the puck. The Ducks hem the Leafs in their own end, but can’t get one by Bernier and the Leafs win 4-2 on home ice. Shots in the third period were 13-11 in the Ducks’ favor.

Now on to who was good and bad.

The Good:

When you score three of your teams four goals in a win, obviously Phil Kessel is going to make it. He’s had a terrific start to the season but this was by far Kessel’s best game as he scored a hat-trick and was an offensive force the whole way through.

A lot of fans haven’t given Dion Phaneuf enough credit for his strong play this season. Not only did he score a big goal tonight, he played very well in his own end and was a big part of that 5-on-3 penalty kill that really swung the momentum in the Maple Leafs’ favor.

Early on, it didn’t look so good, but I’m putting Jonathan Bernier here for his effort in the third period when he had 13 shots thrown his way by the Ducks, but he kept them all out to keep his teams two goal advantage. Even in the first and second periods, Bernier had played pretty well.

The Bad:

This wasn’t Cody Franson‘s best night. He did manage an assist, and his offense as a whole looked solid, but his play in the defensive zone left something to be desired. Franson has had a pretty good start to the season so far, but there have been a couple of games (this one included) where he hasn’t looked as good.

I honestly forgot Tyler Bozak was on the same line as Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk tonight. On all three of Kessel’s goals, I just did not see him. He had a decent night on face-offs at 50%, but other than that I didn’t notice him at all.

Conclusion:

The win snaps a two-game losing streak and pushes the Maple Leafs’ record to 7-3-0 as they pass the Detroit Red Wings for top spot in the Atlantic division. Their next game is against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus where David Clarkson will make his Maple Leafs debut after serving his ten game suspension. I would expect Jonathan Bernier to start that game.

Follow me on Twitter, @BShaw27.

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