TORONTO — William Nylander took another subway ride to Scotiabank Arena to avoid Toronto’s notorious traffic.
The silky smooth winger enjoying his most dominant stretch in the NHL — in a contract year, no less — then buried two more goals and set up another to help the Maple Leafs build a 4-1 lead.
After the Flames battled back to tie things up, and the teams traded chances in overtime, a player with plenty of family history in this building finally found the back of the net in blue and white to get the Leafs back on track.
Max Domi scored in the fifth round of the shootout, Nylander extended his franchise-record point streak to open a season to 14 games and Toronto survived a blown three-goal lead to defeat Calgary 5-4.
“One of the best players in the world right now,” Domi said of Nylander. “Every time he touches the puck, something dangerous is happening.”
“We battled,” Nylander said. “Just sticking with it.”
Connor Zary, Nikita Zadorov, A.J. Greer and Martin Pospisil replied for Calgary (4-7-2). Dan Vladar stopped 32 shots with No. 1 netminder Jacob Markstrom out day-to-day with an undisclosed injury. MacKenzie Weegar added two assists.
“Pretty good effort being able to crawl back and secure a point,” Flames centre Nazem Kadri said. “Proud of our effort.”
Flames forward Yegor Sharangovich scored in the second round of the shootout to give Calgary the lead, but Toronto winger Mitch Marner recovered after almost losing the puck to beat Valdar to keep the Leafs alive.
Domi, who has yet to score in open play after signing in free agency, then buried a shot upstairs on Vladar before Woll denied Dillon Dube to secure the extra point in the standings.
“(Vladar) made a couple big saves on the blocker side,” said Domi, who’s father Tie was a fan favourite in Toronto. “Figured I would take it to his glove — got a little lucky with the shot and Woller made a huge save.
Nylander caused a stir on social media when he was spotted on the subway heading to Union Station, which is attached to the rink via an atrium, ahead of Wednesday’s game.
“Mostly just depends on traffic,” Nylander said when asked on his transit plan. “I hate being in traffic and I don’t want to sit in the car for 45 minutes getting down here.”
The Leafs entered with just one victory over their last six games (1-2-3), while the Flames hit the ice coming off consecutive wins after dropping seven straight in regulation.
Booed off the ice following a 6-3 home loss to the Ottawa Senators two nights earlier, the Leafs set a franchise record Saturday by allowing four or more goals for an eighth straight home game to start a season.
Toronto went up 3-1 just 66 seconds into the second period when Nylander stole the puck from Flames defenceman Noah Hanifin on a Calgary power play and ripped his ninth goal of the season.
The goal was also the first short-handed goal ever scored by the Nylander family — including father Michael and brother Alex — in 1,548 combined games.
“That’s good,” Nylander said with a smile when told of the stat. “Fun to get that one, but the win’s what’s important.”
The Leafs then made it 4-1 at 4:45 when Nylander found Tavares in front for his sixth.
Calgary got one back 48 seconds later when Zadorov blasted his first before Greer made it 4-3 on a deflection for his second at 12:22.
The Flames tied it at 3:22 of the third when Pospisil scored his second in just his third NHL game.
“We were on them,” Zary said. “We just had to capitalize on our opportunities.”
Nylander had a great chance to complete the hat trick a few minutes later, but could only look skyward after firing wide with Vladar out of position.
The Leafs opened the scoring at 3:01 of Friday’s first when Nylander, who has nine goals and 21 points in 2023-24, capitalized on a broken play to score his eighth.
“Special player,” Woll said. “How consistent he’s been is unbelievable.”
Morgan Rielly then hit the post and Tavares was alone in front as Toronto pressed for more, but Calgary evened it up at 7:02 when Zary, who would also find iron later in the period on a man advantage, chipped his own rebound over Woll for his second in his fourth NHL contest.
The home side went back in front at 8:18 when Jarnkrok scored his fourth by finishing off a pretty passing play with Domi and Nick Robertson.
“Good job by the guys staying with it, sticking together,” Tavares said. “But we know we’ve got to keep building from here.”
The Hockey Hall of Fame’s class of 2023 was honoured before the game ahead of Monday’s induction ceremony.
This year’s crop includes Henrik Lundqvist, Caroline Ouellette, Tom Barrasso, Pierre Turgeon, Mike Vernon, Ken Hitchcock and the late Pierre Lacroix.
Vernon won the Stanley Cup with his hometown Flames in 1989. Calgary wore the netminder’s old No. 30 in warm-ups.
The Swedish defenceman has struggled since signing in free agency over the summer with five assists and a minus-8 rating in 13 games.
Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said Friday morning Klingberg has “been working through some injuries” and would be re-evaluated Saturday.
The Leafs host the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday, while the Flames will be in Ottawa.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 10, 2023.
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