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Niklas Hagman scores OT winner as Leafs beat Flyers 5-4

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

TORONTO - On the day they introduced Phil Kessel, the Toronto Maple Leafs showed their newest goal-scoring sensation they know a thing or two about offensive outbursts.

Niklas Hagman scored his second of the game unassisted 1:23 into overtime to give the Leafs a 5-4 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers at Air Canada Centre on Saturday night.

Toronto (3-1-0) rallied from a 4-2 third-period deficit to earn its third consecutive pre-season win in a game featured four fights - including three in the first period. A total of 17 power plays were awarded, including 10 for Toronto.

"When I see (a teammate) do a big hit or get in a fight, it inspires me to play better," said Hagman, who snapped the winner past Flyers goalie Brian Boucher.

"It makes me want to crash the net and try to score a goal. When I see them do their job, it makes me want to do mine."

Matt Stajan, Alexei Ponikarovsky and Francois Beauchemin also scored for Toronto in the rough-and-tumble affair against the Flyers. The two teams also played on Thursday night, with the Leafs winning 4-0.

Daniel Briere, with a pair of goals, captain Mike Richards and defenceman Chris Pronger replied for the Flyers, who dropped their third consecutive exhibition game (0-3-0).

"It's fun when you win," said Leafs coach Ron Wilson. "We can build a little momentum. At least we'll know what it feels like to win (heading into the regular season)."

After a bruising first period that saw Toronto jump out to a 2-1 lead, the Flyers rallied with three unanswered goals in the second, outshooting the Leafs 16-3.

With Philadelphia enjoying a two-man advantage early in the second period, Pronger one-timed a point shot past Maple Leafs goalie Vesa Toskala at 6:53 to tie the game at 2-2. Then it was Briere's turn as the shifty winger scored twice in the middle frame, at 8:41 and 16:58.

The game featured plenty of the rough stuff, with three fights and several post-whistle scrums in the first period alone. Toronto enforcer Colton Orr, signed as a free agent in the off-season, dropped the gloves with Flyers tough guy Riley Cote less than three minutes into the game. Orr landed several punches, to the delight of the home crowd, and the down-and-dirty tone was set.

While Cote was in the penalty box serving an extra minor for roughing, Stajan collected his first goal of the pre-season at 3:27. The Leafs centre took a pass in the neutral zone from Tomas Kaberle and split the Flyers' defencemen, then broke in alone on Emery and lifted the puck over the sprawling Philadelphia goaltender.

Richards tied the game at 1-1 at 8:35 of the first period, also on the power play. With Toskala vying with a crowded crease, the Flyers captain circled the net and tapped in his own rebound.

Ponikarovsky put the Leafs up 2-1 when he deflected Mike Komisarek's point shot past Emery at 18:35 of the first period.

The tide turned in the second period, though, as the Flyers offence came alive - at least in between all of the fisticuffs. Mike Komisarek scrapped with Darrel Powe midway through the second, while the Orr-Cote bout was followed by first period fights between the Flyers' Ian Laperriere and Toronto's Garnet Exelby, and Philadelphia's Daniel Carcillo and the Leafs' Lee Stempniak.

"A lot of guys were trying to be tough out there, which is great," Exelby said. "We want to send a message to the league. We want to stick up for each other and play with a lot of team toughness."

Trailing 4-2 entering the third period, the Leafs showed some mental toughness as Hagman fired a power-play goal at 9:52 of the third period. Beauchemin tied the game at 4-4 when he blasted a power-play goal at 16:10.

Toskala played the entire 60 minutes - his first full game of the pre-season - and stopped 25 of 29 shots.

At the other end, Flyers goalie Ray Emery stopped 10 of 12 shots before being replaced by Brian Boucher midway through the second period.

Toronto was 2-for-10 on the power play, while Philadelphia went 2-for-7 with the man advantage.

Notes: Phil Kessel, who was obtained in a trade with Boston on Friday, was introduced to the Air Canada Centre on the scoreboard midway through the first period. "Toronto's a great team, the fans are outstanding, and it's going to be a great year," said Kessel as the crowd roared its approval. "The fans here are the best in the league." Kessel signed a US$27-million, five-year deal with Toronto, but is out until November while recovering form off-season shoulder surgery. . . Nazem Kadri, drafted seventh overall by Toronto last June, took the opening faceoff for the Leafs on a line between wingers Christian Hanson and John Mitchell.



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