TORONTO – Phil Kessel's goal with less than five minutes to play snapped a tie and gave the Toronto Maple Leafs a 2-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Tuesday night.
Toronto has gone 2-0-1 in its last three games despite scoring just four goals, largely because of the solid play of James Reimer. The rookie goalie made 28 saves against the Islanders, denying Jack Hillen with his glove just before Kessel netted the winner.
Kessel skated the length of the ice and scored his 23rd of the season at 15:19, beating Al Montoya with a long wrist shot.
Clarke MacArthur had the other goal for Toronto, 7-2-2 since the All-Star break.
Matt Moulson scored for the Islanders, giving him four goals in two days. Moulson had a hat trick in New York's 5-1 home victory over Florida on Monday.
The game was tied 1-1 heading into the third period as two of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference tried to keep up their unlikely push for a playoff spot.
Defensive gaffes resulted in prime scoring opportunities at both ends, but solid goaltending from Reimer and Montoya kept the game tight.
Montoya, the No. 6 pick in the 2004 draft, made his 10th career NHL appearance at age 26 — and started for the third straight time for the Islanders. He stood tall early, denying Joffrey Lupul's bid for his first goal with the Maple Leafs in the opening minutes before turning aside an open look from Nikolai Kulemin.
He was beaten 10:13 in by MacArthur's well-placed wrist shot off the rush. That gave the Leafs winger a career-high 18 goals this season.
Reimer was coming off a rare shutout loss — Ottawa beat the Leafs 1-0 in a shootout on Saturday — and appeared to have luck on his side. Blake Comeau hit the crossbar on a clear breakaway early in the second.
The Maple Leafs withstood an early parade to the penalty box, but it eventually caught up with them.
Moulson cashed in on the Islanders fourth power play, gathering a rebound at 8:09 of the second period and sliding it past Reimer. It was his sixth goal in three games and 27th of the season.
Notes: Reimer and Montoya went head-to-head in the AHL on Nov. 3, when the Toronto Marlies visited San Antonio. ... The Leafs welcomed back forwards Colby Armstrong (blurry vision) and Mike Brown (shoulder). Joey Crabb was a healthy scratch. ... New York, which had won six of seven, is 19-21-4 since Jack Capuano took over for fired coach Scott Gordon on Nov. 15.