The Toronto Maple Leafs are in the playoff picture, and they’re playing like they can stay there.
Morgan Rielly scored 2:13 into overtime to lift the Maple Leafs over the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 on Saturday night.
Mitch Marner and James van Riemsdyk also scored for the Maple Leafs, who moved one point ahead of the New York Islanders for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 15 games remaining. Toronto has won three straight.
“We know how critical each game is,” said van Riemsdyk, who added an assist. “It seems like we’re going game-for-game with all these other teams around us, and everyone seems to be keeping pace. We did our job tonight, and now we’ve got to be ready for the next one.”
Frederik Andersen made 36 saves for Toronto, including 25 straight to finish the contest.
“We don’t put too much pressure on ourselves,” Andersen said. “It’s a fun time of year. We just need to play the right way and the results take care of themselves.”
Victor Rask and Teuvo Teravainen scored for Carolina, which has lost 11 of 15 games. Ward made 23 saves but couldn’t steer aside Rielly’s shot, which bounced off his left leg pad and angled into the back corner of the net.
The Hurricanes, fighting to stay out of last place in the Metropolitan Division, led twice but couldn’t hold it either time.
“We’ve got find a way to finish plays,” Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said. “I thought some individuals played outstanding. ... A little more finishing around the net is what we’re needing and what we’re lacking right now.”
Rask opened the scoring when he corralled a rolling puck below the right faceoff dot and flipped it over Andersen’s left shoulder 8:59 into the first period.
The Maple Leafs evened it less than a minute later when Marner connected on a one-timer with a hard wrist shot from the right faceoff circle that zipped past Ward.
Carolina retook the lead in the second period, but Toronto charged back quickly.
Teravainen scored 45 seconds into the second when his wrist shot from the point was accidentally deflected in by Rielly, but van Riemsdyk got even for Toronto when he sneaked a wrist shot over Ward’s blocker at the 7:37 mark.
“That (van Riemsdyk) line was our best line,” Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. “Mitch Marner was skating, James was skating. They were just real effective.”
That was all the scoring in regulation despite a fast-paced third period of frenzied shots and tough saves.
Rielly broke through in the extra session. The Toronto defenceman carried the puck behind the Hurricanes net and circled back around in between the faceoff circles, and his attempt on net found its way in off Ward’s pad.
“We knew what kind of game it was going to be when we play against them, it’s always tight-checking, not a lot of room out there,” van Riemsdyk said. “Gotta stay patient, try to stick with it, and when you get your chance try to capitalize. We played a pretty good game in that regard and it was a great play by Morgan there to get us the win.”
NOTES: Carolina Fs Brock McGinn and Phillip Di Giuseppe were both scratched with upper-body injuries. It was McGinn’s fifth straight game missed and Di Giuseppe’s third. Both are day-to-day. ... Hurricanes F Valentin Zykov left in the first period with an upper-body injury after a hit along the boards from Roman Polak. He did not return. ... Van Riemsdyk has scored twice in three games after 14 straight without a goal.
Maple Leafs: Play at Florida on Tuesday night.
Hurricanes: Visit the Islanders on Monday night.Report Typo/Error