TORONTO — Mikhail Grabovski continued his hot streak and took the Toronto Maple Leafs along with him.
The centre pulled his team out of an early hole by assisting on the first two goals Monday and the Maple Leafs went on to beat the Edmonton Oilers 6-3.
Toronto has climbed back into playoff position in the Eastern Conference by going 5-0-1 in its last six games. Grabovski is leading the charge with 12 points over that stretch.
Phil Kessel, with two, Clarke MacArthur, Jake Gardiner, Tyler Bozak and Joffrey Lupul had goals for the Maple Leafs (28-19-6). Kessel also had an assist as he passed the 300-point plateau.
Jordan Eberle, with two, and Jeff Petry replied for Edmonton (21-27-5), which lost in regulation for the first time since Jan. 21.
The Oilers were forced to play without coach Tom Renney, who stayed back at the team hotel after taking a puck in the head during the morning skate. The cut required stitches and left Renney experiencing headaches. Associate coach Ralph Krueger took over in his absence.
James Reimer entered the game with a long shutout streak after blanking Toronto’s last two opponents, but saw it end quickly. Eberle collected a puck in front that Leafs defenceman Dion Phaneuf was unable to clear and beat Reimer just 21 seconds in.
Sam Gagner picked up the second assist on that play, giving him 12 points in three games dating back to his eight-point night against Chicago on Thursday. That was his only entry on the scoresheet against Toronto.
Grabovski made sure that early lead didn’t stand. He set up MacArthur with a nice little touch pass at 7:21 before carrying the puck right around the goal and finding Gardiner in the high slot at 13:45 to give Toronto a 2-1 lead.
But Eberle evened things up at 17:30 on a lovely tic-tac-toe passing play with Taylor Hall and Petry before scoring his 24th of the season.
The scoring and wide open play continued in the second period.
Kessel scored into an open net after a couple nice passes at 1:28 before Bozak added to the advantage less than three minutes later, stealing the puck from defenceman Cam Barker and flipping the puck past Devan Dubnyk.
Edmonton briefly regained some life when Petry scored on a point shot at 13:24 to make it 4-3, but Lupul restored Toronto’s two-goal advantage before the intermission. He caught a high Phaneuf shot and swept it behind Dubnyk, prompting the Oilers goalie to smash his stick over the crossbar.
The Oilers came out hard in the third period, but Reimer stood tall. He robbed Ben Eager off the rush and was fortunate a couple minutes later when Eberle’s shot rang off the post.
Kessel added an empty-net goal to seal the victory.
Of even more concern for Edmonton was the potential loss of rookie forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who didn’t play after taking a hit from Mike Brown early in the third period. Nugent-Hopkins had just returned to the lineup Saturday after missing a month with a shoulder injury.