Kessel, JVR come alive to hand Leafs first win

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The Maple Leafs dropped their first two games of the season and one area of particular note during that brief stretch was the absence of Toronto’s 2013-14 leading scorers Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk from the scoresheet. That wasn’t a problem tonight.

Kessel and van Riemsdyk combined for two goals and five points as Toronto earned a 6-3 victory over the New York Rangers.

Leafs defenseman Cody Franson made his season debut after recovering from a knee injury and quickly made his presence felt with a hard shot that beat goaltender Henrik Lundqvist at 7:45 of the first period:

It was the prelude for the Maple Leafs’ explosive five-goal second period that chased Lundqvist from the game. Cam Talbot replaced him and turned aside all 12 shots he faced, but the damage was already done.

Goaltender James Reimer was pulled as well, but under very different circumstances. He left the game after being hit in the head by Rangers forward Dominic Moore in the third period. Reimer said after the contest that he feels fine and was only following the league’s protocol, per TSN’s Jonas Siegel.

This was a big win for Toronto, which entered this season looking to answer critics after its late-season collapse in 2014 cost the team a playoff spot. Meanwhile the Rangers are now 1-2-0 after dropping two straight contests.