EDMONTON, Alberta — Thanks to Kris Russell’s embarrassing mistake, Patrick Marleau wound up with one of the easiest goals of his career Thursday night.
It was a big one, too.
Russell accidentally fired the puck into his own net late in the third period, handing the Toronto Maple Leafs the go-ahead goal in a 6-4 victory over the Edmonton Oilers.
Skating toward the net, Marleau was credited with the winner after Russell’s gaffe with 1:05 remaining.
Following the game, the Oilers defenseman could do little more than shake his head.
“It was a bounce. I turned to try and battle it out and obviously you know what happened,” Russell said. “I thought we came back and played well, but I’m pretty frustrated with the way it ended.”
William Nylander had a goal and two assists for Toronto, and Frederik Andersen stopped 41 shots. Auston Matthews, Dominic Moore, Matt Martin and Nazem Kadri also scored for the Maple Leafs (17-9-1).
As he battled with Kadri for a bouncing puck in the lower part of the faceoff circle, Russell spun around and tried to clear toward the corner, out of harm’s way. Instead, he smacked the puck right through the legs of Edmonton goalie Laurent Brossoit.
When he saw it go in, a dejected Russell slumped his shoulders and bent over at the knees.
“I’m feeling for him right now,” Kadri said. “They did a great job; they earned themselves at least a point in that one and came up a little bit short. Tough bounce, but that’s the way it’s going for us right now. We continued that.”
Russell had tied the score for Edmonton early in the third. Mark Letestu, Zack Kassian and Connor McDavid also scored for the Oilers (10-14-2), who won their previous two games.
Brossoit started in place of injured Cam Talbot, expected to miss at least the next two weeks. Brossoit made 30 saves.
“It was obviously an unfortunate way to end it,” McDavid said. “I think everyone would have wanted overtime — it would have been entertaining. It’s just the way it goes.”
The Maple Leafs scored on their first shot 2:15 into the game when Nylander made a great feed on the power play to set up Matthews for his 13th goal of the season.
Toronto made it 2-0 six minutes into the opening period when Moore beat Brossoit to the stick side with a wrist shot.
The Oilers got back into the game with seven minutes left in the first on a goal by Letestu, but the Maple Leafs responded just 29 seconds later as a turnover at the blue line led to Martin being left alone at the side of the net to score his second of the season.
Edmonton made it a one-goal game again 6 1/2 minutes into the second period as Jujhar Khaira made a nice backhand feed from behind the net to Kassian, who scored his second of the season in as many games.
The Oilers tied it late in the second period when McDavid tipped Russell’s point shot past Andersen.
Toronto moved back in front less than a minute later on a power-play goal by Nylander. Edmonton evened it again three minutes into the third as Russell scored on a drive from the point.
Kadri added an empty-netter with a second left.
“That was a good game. It was fun,” Nylander said. “Two great fan bases in a great building, a good, high-scoring game. It’s cool to be a part of those games. There was a lot going on.”
NOTES: Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson was a surprise scratch with an upper-body injury after participating in pregame warmups.
Maple Leafs: At the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday.
Oilers: At the Calgary Flames on Saturday.
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