TORONTO – Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle said it best in his post-game press conference: “Dave Bolland has a history of scoring big goals.”
Bolland, who scored the Stanley Cup-clincher for the Chicago Blackhawks last season, got the game-winner in overtime as the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Edmonton Oilers 6-5 in a back-and-forth game Saturday night at Air Canada Centre.
Bolland finished off a 3-on-1 rush with Cody Franson and Mason Raymond just over two minutes into the extra period. He now has three goals on the season, two of them game-winning goals.
“We have confidence, we just don’t give up,” Bolland said. “In Chicago, when I was there, we’d be down 5-4 or 5-1 against teams and we knew we could come back. We have that feeling in the room. If we’re down, we can come back.”
Bolland’s goal came after Joffrey Lupul had tied the game in the final minute of regulation with goalie Jonathan Bernier pulled for an extra attacker.
“We got a lot of experience in here, a lot of character players,” said James van Riemsdyk. “We don’t ever quit and that’s a huge attribute to have … We never seem to stop playing and that’s key.”
The win improved the Leafs’ record to 5-1-0, while the Oilers, who began a six-game road trip, dropped to 1-3-1.
The lead changed hands six times and neither team was up by more than a goal at any point of the game.
“It was back and forth, and we kept coming,” said Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf. “That’s probably one of the most momentum swings—back and forth, back and forth—that you’re going to see. We’d like to come out on the winning end and we did.”
Lupul and Van Riemsdyk each had two goals for Toronto, and Nazem Kadri had the other. Bernier, making his third straight start, stopped 26 shots for the win.
Ryan Smyth replied with a pair of goals for Edmonton. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Boyd Gordon and Jordan Eberle had the others, while Devan Dubnyk made 20 saves and Mark Arcobello added three assists.
“Our guys were battling hard and we couldn’t keep the surge from coming,” said head coach Dallas Eakins. “I thought we were doing a lot of great, great things and it just seemed like that puck kept coming in our net.”
The opening period was an omen for things to come as the teams each scored a pair of goals.
Edmonton opened the scoring just over five minutes into the first on a controversial goal. Bernier went behind the net to play the puck around the boards and Eberle clipped his right foot as he tried to squeeze between Bernier and the post. Bernier tripped, Eberle got the puck out front and it deflected off Smyth’s skate over Bernier as he scrambled back into the net.
“I thought I made the right play,” Bernier said. “He kinda caught me from behind, so that’s why I was late on that play. But that’s part of the game and that’s the referee’s call.”
Toronto tied the game at 9:47 on a weak goal. Kadri took a pass from Raymond at the left faceoff dot and roofed a wrist shot over Dubynk just a few feet from the goal-line.
The Leafs took the lead on a power-play goal at 15:26 of the period. Van Riemsdyk tipped a wrist shot from the point by Cody Franson past Dubynk for his fourth goal of the season.
The Oilers got that goal back with less than two minutes left in the period on a 5-on-3 power play. With Colton Orr and Van Riemsdyk in the penalty box, Nugent-Hopkins snapped a shot from the slot that snuck between Bernier’s right arm and his body into the net.
The teams split a pair of goals in the second period, and the back-and-forth hockey continued in the third.
After Eberle and Van Riemsdyk exchanged goals, the Oilers reclaimed the lead at 11:27 to make it 5-4 when Smyth got his second of the game, finishing off a passing play from Eberle.
That lead stood until the final minute of the third when Lupul tied it with a shot from the bottom of the left circle, allowing Bolland to complete the comeback for Toronto.
“My teeth are going to be ground down by the 20-game mark if we keep playing the way we did tonight, as far as exchanging chances and mistakes,” Carlyle said. “But hey, that’s hockey and it’s early in the season. I’m sure we’re going to see a few more like this along the way. We’re just fortunate we’re on the extra point side of it.”
Notes: David Broll, a Leafs sixth-round pick in 2011, got an assisted on the Leafs’ third goal for his first point in the NHL.…Edmonton’s Nail Yakupov, who has no points in four games, was a healthy scratch for the first time in his career. … The Oilers have given up at least four goals in every game this season. … Announced attendance was 19,379.