Kessel leads streaking Maple Leafs past Avalanche with two goals

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 22, 2014
Phil Kessel scored twice, James van Riemsdyk had a goal and an assist and the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-2 on Tuesday night for their sixth straight win. Nazem Kadri also scored and James Reimer stopped 35 shots for Toronto. The Maple Leafs are on their longest winning streak in eight years after losing four in a row. Toronto has climbed to fourth in the Eastern Conference standings during its win streak. Rookie Nathan MacKinnon scored two goals for the Avalanche, and Jean-Sebastien Giguere had 19 saves in relief of Semyon Varlamov. Colorado generated more early chances but Toronto scored first. Dion Phaneuf sent a puck from his own end off the backboards and Kessel, who got behind the Avalanche defense, put a soft shot past Varlamov 3:56 into the game. The Avalanche failed to capitalize on two early power plays, and the Maple Leafs made it 2-0 on their first try on van Riemsdyk's 20th goal at 17:41. Kadri redirected Jake Gardiner's shot from the point 2:55 into the second period, giving Toronto a 3-0 lead 2:55 and chasing Varlamov. Varlamov allowed three goals on 10 shots. Giguere came in and Kessel made it 4-0 with his second of the night and team-leading 26th of the season. Giguere settled down, and the Avalanche finally got on the board when MacKinnon scored on a 2-on-1 break with P.A. Parenteau at 18:35 of the second period. Colorado turned up the pressure in the third and scored again on MacKinnon's high wrist shot at 5:07. It was his 17th goal of the season. Colorado pulled Giguere for an extra skater with 2:56 remaining, but Jay McClement scored into the empty net to seal the win. NOTES: Toronto RW Joffrey Lupul had two assists. ... Kessel extended his point streak to seven games. ... The Avalanche honored referee Brad Watson before the game. Watson was officiating in his 1,000th NHL game. ... Colorado activated Parenteau and D Nate Guenin from the injured list. Parenteau missed 10 games with a sprained left knee and Guenin was out for seven games with an ankle injury.
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