Marner lifts Maple Leafs over Rangers in wild third period
TORONTO (AP) — Mitch Marner was stuck on six goals for nearly a month. Suddenly, nobody can keep the red-hot forward from putting the puck in the net.
The 21-year-old was originally credited with another goal later given to Andreas Johnsson, which prompted fans at Scotiabank Arena to litter the ice with headwear for a second consecutive hat trick that wasn’t. Marner scored late in Thursday’s 6-1 win over the Florida Panthers — a goal that some in the crowd thought was a third for John Tavares.
“People are losing their hats for no reason here. … I feel pretty bad for them,” said Marner, who recorded the fourth two-goal game of his career. “If they’re Leaf hats I’m guessing they’re not cheap. Everything around here is pretty expensive.”
Marner had 16 assists during a 13-game goal drought that stretched from Nov. 16 to Dec. 13, but he has scored six times and set up two more in his last four outings.
“Every night he’s one of our best players, if not the best player,” Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. “He works real hard, he’s real good defensively, he does it right.”
Morgan Rielly and Patrick Marleau also scored for Toronto (24-10-2), while Frederik Andersen made 25 saves. Tavares and Johnsson, who recorded the second three-point game of his career, each had two assists as the Leafs won their third straight.
Babcock announced following the victory that fourth-line forward Tyler Ennis, a pleasant surprise with seven goals and four assists in 33 games this season, broke his ankle midway through the second period.
“We’ve only got 11 forwards so we’ll have to do something,” Babcock said.
“They’ve got some pretty skilled guys,” New York defenseman Marc Staal said. “We’ve just got to learn from our positives.”
NOTES: The 39-year-old Marleau is the fourth player in NHL history to register at least 10 goals in 21 or more consecutive seasons. … Leafs D Martin Marincin, in the lineup for a second straight night for Igor Ozhiganov (illness), played his 100th game with Toronto. … Canadian IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe was in attendance.
Rangers: Host Philadelphia on Sunday.
Maple Leafs: Host Detroit on Sunday.