TORONTO — Auston Matthews scored 54 seconds into overtime as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 on Saturday.
William Nylander, with a goal and an assist, John Tavares and Pierre Engvall replied for Toronto (22-10-2), extending its winning streak to three games. Jack Campbell made 17 saves. Alex Galchenyuk added two assists. Matthews also had an assist.
Leon Draisaitl had a goal and two assists for Edmonton (21-13-1), while Tyson Barrie, with a goal and an assist against his former team, and Darnell Nurse also scored for the Oilers. Mike Smith made 27 saves in a battle of North Division heavyweights.
Connor McDavid, who tops the NHL scoring race with 62 points, added two assists.
The teams will play their ninth and final meeting of the regular season Monday back at Scotiabank Arena.
On the winner, Matthews fired a puck towards the net that went off Nurse and got past Smith for the star centre’s league-leading 22nd goal of the season.
The Oilers saw live action for the first time in a week after their three-game series in Montreal was postponed when two members of the Canadiens were added to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list Monday.
The Leafs were also fairly well-rested, having played just four times in the last 13 days coming into Saturday, including Thursday’s 3-2 overtime victory in Ottawa against the Senators.
The Leafs entered 5-1-1 against the Oilers, including a resounding three-game sweep that saw Toronto boss Edmonton by a combined 13-1 scoreline and hold McDavid without a point the last times the teams met.
Edmonton has rebounded nicely off those disappointing performances, going 7-2-1 since thanks in large part to McDavid’s seven goals and 15 assists over that span.
Toronto improved to 3-6-1 over its last 10.
Down 3-1 in the third period, Tavares got the home side within one with 7:39 left in regulation when he took a between-the-legs feed from Galchenyuk and snapped his 10th past Smith.
Nylander then fired home his 13th with 3:22 remaining to tie it.
Toronto grabbed a 1-0 lead at 4:14 of the second on a strange sequence. Engvall scooped a shot towards the Edmonton net in tight, tried to swipe at it with his glove and saw the puck bounce off Smith’s helmet and in for his third goal of the season.
The play was initially ruled a goal, then waived off after the officials judged Engvall touched the puck with his hand before finally being reversed a final time after review.
Edmonton got that one back at 6:47 when Nurse joined the rush, took a pass from McDavid and beat Campbell through the five-hole for the defenceman’s career-high 11th of the campaign.
Matthews then hit his league-leading eighth post of the year on a wicked shot that beat Smith clean.
The Oilers took their first lead with 5:55 left in the period when McDavid raced down the left side on Leafs defenceman Justin Holl before finding a late arriving Draisaitl to bury his 19th.
Barrie, who had a one forgettable season with Toronto in 2019-20 prior to signing with Edmonton in free agency, made it 3-1 with 1:54 remaining in the period when he took a no-look feed from Draisaitl in front to roof his fifth on Campbell, who made a third straight start with Frederik Andersen still dealing with a lower-body injury.
A Toronto power play on an ugly 1-for-21 run got a chance early in the third, but Smith robbed Matthews on a one-timer before Tavares hit his second post of the night.
Then with his team back at even strength, Smith made another terrific stop on Leafs winger Mitch Marner for Toronto exploded late to force OT.
In a game featuring four of the NHL’s top-eight scorers — McDavid (first), Draisaitl (second), Marner (third) and Matthews (eighth) — entering Saturday, the opening period didn’t offer much in the way of action.
Tavares fired off the post shortside five minutes in, while Campbell had to scramble to shut the door at the side of his net later in the first.
Smith had to stretch to stop Jason Spezza, who had scored in three straight, on a one-timer off a pass from Galchenyuk.
Notes: Campbell registered a 30-save shutout Feb. 27 in Edmonton. … All 11 of Nurse’s goals have come at even strength.
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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press