One Mitchin' wild ride

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:31 AM ET

TORONTO -- Before the third period of the night of his life, Maple Leafs rookie John Mitchell had yet to score a goal in his fledgling NHL career.

By the end of it, he was the toast of the town and a wild Air Canada Centre after scoring a pair of goals to lead the Leafs to an unlikely 5-2 win over the New York Rangers.

The Leafs, who could have been left for dead trailing 2-0 after two and running out of gas, showed yet again that they won't fold.

The five-goal outburst not only gave the Leafs their second win in a row and fifth of the season, it came against the NHL's leading team and the early class of the Eastern Conference.

Other third-period markers by Jason Blake, Pavel Kubina and Dominic Moore made for another remarkable comeback for the Leafs.

For the third time in the past five games, the Leafs lulled their opponents into a false sense of security by getting into a 2-0 hole.

But led by Mitchell, who had played 205 games in the American Hockey League before he finally got his chance to play in the bigs, the Leafs continued a spirited start to the season.

Toronto outshot the Rangers 35-20, the seventh consecutive game in which they have held the edge over their opponent.

The Rangers came to town on a hot streak having won four in a row and playing strong defensively. They were also riding their best start in franchise history after 13 games, sprinting out to a six-point lead atop the Eastern Conference and a whopping nine points atop the Atlantic Division.

But like New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins before them, they took the bait of playing as though a 2-0 lead was enough against the supposedly offensively challenged Leafs.

The Rangers opened the scoring with 10 seconds left in the first on a goal by Ryan Callaghan, who was left unprotected at the side of Leafs goaltender Vesa Toskala. When Blair Betts made it 2-0, the Leafs lost some of their energy.

But after an opening five minutes in the third in which they took the play to the Rangers, the Leafs continued to hammer away until Mitchell scored the Leafs' first goal at the 12:36 mark on a wrist shot that beat Rangers goalie Steve Valiquette.

Less than 30 seconds later, Blake tied it on a tip-in. Suddenly, the Leafs were on fire as 51 seconds later, Kubina blasted in his second of the season from the point.

Mitchell scored again on another wrister at the 16:06 mark and for good measure, assisted on the fifth and final Leafs goal, Moore's snap shot at 17:57.

With the win, the Leafs have won two in a row and four of their past five and evened their home record to 2-2-2.

It was a rough night for Etobicoke native Valiquette, who had a 3-0 record and 1.29 goals against average against the Leafs, including a shutout earlier this season.


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