Grabner scores 2 goals as Rangers top Maple Leafs 5-2 (Jan 19, 2017)
TORONTO (AP) Michael Grabner punished his former team while adding to a terrific start to the season.
Grabner scored two goals to help the New York Rangers snap a three-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.
Grabner, who had nine goals in 80 games last season with Toronto, has 21 goals this season for the Rangers - his first 20-goal season since 2011-12 while with the Islanders. He saw a different-looking Maple Leafs squad than the last-place group he left behind.
''Obviously, the young guys coming in, they're just flying around out there,'' Grabner said. ''It's fun to watch, but it's also nice when you get the win against them.''
Pavel Buchnevich, Brady Skjei and J.T. Miller added goals for New York, and Henrik Lundqvist made 23 saves following a series of rough outings.
''Well I think it was a big game for me, a big game for the team, to respond,'' Lundqvist said.
Tyler Bozak and Zach Hyman scored for Toronto, which had a three-game winning streak stopped. The Maple Leafs had earned 21 of a possible 26 points in their previous 13 games (10-2-1). Frederik Andersen gave up four goals on 40 shots.
Among the better first-period teams in the NHL, the Maple Leafs started slowly against the Rangers. Playing without their injured No. 1 defenseman Morgan Rielly for the first time this season - and in his four-year career - Toronto got running around in the defensive zone, matching a season high in allowing 19 shots.
A pair of lost puck battles in one instance saw Mats Zuccarello feed Skjei for the game's first goal.
The Leafs evened it up less than four minutes later on Bozak's 11th of the season. Rookie Mitch Marner added his 27th assist on the play. After firing a shot wide, Marner scooped up a loose puck in the corner and without looking, whipped a pass to the front of the net where it bounced off Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein and found Bozak, who beat Lundqvist.
New York's No. 1 goaltender entered the night in a serious slump, surrendering 26 goals in his previous six outings, including a seven-goal shellacking two nights earlier against Dallas.
James van Riemsdyk added an assist on the goal from Bozak, extending his point streak to nine games (13 points).
Buchnevich gave the Rangers the lead back about five minutes later. The Rangers rookie, who had five points in the previous three games, first kicked a bouncing puck in front of Andersen and then managed to get a stick on it before it crossed the line. Video review confirmed the goal.
Marner nearly tied it with a wicked attempt on a partial breakaway near the midway point of the second, but his shot went wide. The Rangers came right back down the ice on the same shift and scored as Miller fired Kevin Hayes' one-time feed past Andersen for his 15th goal.
Hyman nearly got the Leafs back within one while short-handed shortly after but was stopped by Lundqvist. The Leafs rookie did it himself on the next penalty kill while Corrado was in the box for the second time. Hyman stripped New York defenseman Adam Clendening of the puck in the offensive zone before outwaiting Lundqvist and then scoring.
Komarov nearly tied it in the opening moments of the third, but was denied by Lundqvist. A two-on-one opportunity between Grabner and Derek Stepan was then turned aside by Andersen. Grabner hobbled to the bench but later returned to score the fourth Rangers goal short-handed.
The 29-year-old managed to beat Andersen with his second short-handed breakaway of the game for a 4-2 lead, adding his second of the night a short while later with the Leafs net empty.
Toronto coach Mike Babcock said the club opted against bringing Grabner back because it wanted to leave roster spots open for younger players, many of whom have thrived as rookies this season.
''He did a real good job for us,'' Babcock said. ''We would've loved to have kept him.''
Rangers: at Detroit on Sunday.
Maple Leafs: home vs. Ottawa on Saturday night.