TORONTO – Phil Kessel had the winning goal after nearly fighting a familiar foe.
Kessel scored the second of three straight goals for Toronto in the third period and the Maple Leafs rallied to beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-1 on Saturday night.
The U.S. Olympian assisted on the Maple Leafs’ third goal and almost had his first Gordie Howe hat trick — a goal, an assist and a fight — when he and pesky Alexandre Burrows scuffled and just about dropped the gloves late in the second period. Kessel and Burrows did fight Nov. 2 in Vancouver.
The two each got roughing minors Saturday, with Burrows getting an additional minor for high-sticking.
“(Kessel) wasn’t too thrilled about all that and neither was anyone on the bench,” linemate James van Riemsdyk said. “Maybe you can look at that as something that got Phil a little bit excited.”
At the time of the fracas, the Canucks were clinging to a 1-0 lead on Ryan Kesler’s goal late in the first.
That all changed in the third period, when the Leafs broke out with three goals in a 4:42 span.
“It was a one-goal hockey game and here we had an opportunity to pull a hockey game out of the fire by scoring one goal and giving ourselves a chance,” Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said.
“We have a break coming, and it would make everybody feel a lot better about themselves with a win here versus a loss.”
The win was Toronto’s 11th in the past 14 games and its seventh straight at home.
“About six games ago, we really focused in on playing well going into the break,” captain Dion Phaneuf said. “We feel we’ve done that. We’ve gotten some big wins. . .”
The Canucks lost their seventh straight game and their 16th in their past 20.
“We’ve dug ourselves a pretty big hole here, but we need to look at it as a challenge when we get back,” Vancouver coach John Tortorella said.
Kessel has 31 goals this season. Mason Raymond and van Riemsdyk also scored for Toronto, and Jonathan Bernier made 23 saves.
Roberto Luongo stopped 30 shots for Vancouver.
Blues 4, Jets 3 (SO)
In St. Louis, T.J. Oshie and Vladimir Tarasenko scored in the shootout to give the Blues a victory over Winnipeg.
The crowd chanted “USA! USA!” as Oshie skated in on Al Montoya and beat him. Tarasenko then scored, giving the Blues the victory in their final game before the Olympic break.
St. Louis goalie Brian Elliott stopped Bryan Little and Andrew Ladd in the tiebreaker.
Lightning 4, Red Wings 2
In Tampa, Alex Killorn scored a tiebreaking goal late in the third period, Ondrej Palat had two goals and the Lightning beat Detroit in the Red Wings’ 6,000th regular-season game.
Killorn beat Jimmy Howard from just outside the crease to give the Lightning a 3-2 lead with 3:11 to play. Palat added an empty-net goal with 63 seconds left.
Daniel Alfredsson and Tomas Jurco scored for Detroit, which has a record of 2,761-2,320-815-104.
Bruins 7, Senators 2
In Boston, Patrice Bergeron scored twice and added an assist as the Bruins went into the break with a win over the Senators.
Bergeron, who will join Team Canada for the Olympics, was one of several Bruins with multiple points before joining their national teams in Sochi, Russia. David Krejci of the Czech Republic and Sweden’s Loui Eriksson added a pair of assists apiece.
Capitals 3, Devils 0
In Washington, Julien Brouillette broke a scoreless tie with his first NHL goal midway through the third period, Braden Holtby stopped 25 shots and the Capitals beat New Jersey in the teams’ final game before the Olympic break.
Brouillette, playing his second NHL game, beat Cory Schneider on the short side with a wrist shot from the top of the left circle at the 10:50 mark.
Martin Erat scored an empty-netter with 1:47 left for his first goal of the season and Troy Brouwer added another — his 100th career goal — 36 seconds later.
Flyers 2, Flames 1
In Philadelphia, Brayden Schenn and Scott Hartnell scored goals, Ray Emery stopped 32 shots and the Flyers beat Calgary for their fourth straight win.
Making his first start since Jan. 23, Emery had a shutout going until Matt Stajan scored with 2:26 left.
Despite winning six of their past eight games, the Flames are tied for the third-fewest points in the league.
Canadiens 4, Hurricanes 1
In Raleigh, North Carolina, David Desharnais scored twice for Montreal against the Hurricanes.
Montreal left wing Max Pacioretty sustained a lower-body injury with 7:30 left in the first period when he was checked into the goal by Carolina’s Brett Bellemore and did not return. The U.S. Olympic hockey team member said the move was precautionary.
Avalanche 5, Islanders 2
In Uniondale, New York, Matt Duchene scored a pair of goals 2:44 apart in the second period, and Colorado beat the Islanders.
Nathan MacKinnon scored, and Gabriel Landeskog and Paul Stastny each had empty-net goals for the Avalanche.
Ducks 5, Predators 2
In Nashville, Ryan Getzlaf scored twice, Jonas Hiller made 36 saves and NHL-leading Anaheim beat the Predators to snap a three-game losing streak.
Emerson Etem gave Anaheim a 3-2 lead when he tipped Hampus Lindholm’s slap shot into the net 4:51 into the third. Mathieu Perreault sealed the victory 3 minutes later by tipping in Daniel Winnik’s pass.
Stars 2, Coyotes 1
In Dallas, Kari Lehtonen made 26 saves as the Stars prevailed over Phoenix
Lehtonen, a Finnish Olympian, received plenty of help from the Stars’ defense and from goals by Ray Whitney and Russian Olympian Valeri Nichushkin.