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Kessel, Lupul lead Maple Leafs past Islanders

The SportsXchange

TORONTO - Home is where the wins are for the Toronto Maple Leafs so far this season.

Led by right winger Phil Kessel's two goals and left winger Joffrey Lupul's three assists, the Leafs defeated the New York Islanders 5-2 on Tuesday to go 8-2 at home.

"We have to have success in our building, it's imperative," Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. "It's as simple as that. If you're going to be a hockey club that is going qualify and give yourself a chance you have to have a home record that you can be proud of."

Center Trevor Smith had a goal and two assists for the Leafs (13-7-1) who have won three of their past seven games and left winger Mason Raymond and right winger David Clarkson added goals.

Center Casey Cizikas and center Frans Nielsen scored for the Islanders (8-11-3), who have lost six of their past eight games.

"I don't think we played our best," Islanders' center John Tavares said. "I don't think we were even close to it."

Maple Leafs goaltender Jonathan Bernier stopped 35 of 37 shots while Kevin Poulin stopped 19 of 24 shots in the Islanders goal.

"One of the goals we wanted to create is that when teams come into this building, there's no more two points, kiss your relatives and go home," Carlyle said. "It's not going to happen."

"We just had some guys tonight that for whatever reason. ... the play's not over," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "At the end of the day we had some chances and we didn't capitalize on ours and they did on theirs. We just have to score more goals, it's as simple as that. We must have had 15 chances."

The Leafs had a 2-1 lead entering the third period but restored their early two-goal lead when Raymond made it 3-1 with his eighth goal of the season at 3:39, tucking in the rebound of center Jay McClement's backhand shot.

Clarkson scored his first goal as a Maple Leaf from the left faceoff circle, converting a pass from Smith, at 12:52 of the third to stretch the lead to three goals.

Clarkson, a major off-season acquisition as a free agent, opened the season with a 10-game suspension for coming off the bench to join a fight in a preseason game.

"It does feel good, but the big thing is we won," Clarkson said. "I guess it'll get some people off my back a bit, asking questions. The big is that as a team we did a lot of good things tonight. When they scored we came right back and scored and I thought Bernie played good again tonight."

Nielsen picked up his 10th goal of the season for New York at 15:14 of the third. Kessel scored his 12th goal of the season and picked up his 400th NHL point at 17:17 of the third.

Cizikas hit a goal post at 7:31 of the second. The Leafs took advantage of the reprieve to extend their lead to 2-0 at 11:29 on Kessel's wrist shot from the right faceoff circle. It came on the first power play of the game with defenseman Andrew MacDonald off for tripping. Lupul picked up his second assist of the game.

But the Islanders scored with 11 seconds left in the period on a breakaway by Cizikas, who picked up his third goal of the season, unassisted, on a close-in wrist shot. The Islanders had a 20-14 advantage in shots on goal after two periods.

The Maple Leafs scored 22 seconds into the game, with Smith tapping in his third goal of the season on a drop pass from Lupul.

"I think just in general we gave too many guys too much time," Tavares said. "The first shift of the game we didn't do a good job of closing out in front of the net.

"It seemed like we weren't executing, just a little timid on plays and coming out of our end," Tavares said. "When we were executing our fore check, we were just a little hesitant, a little slow. When we're playing aggressive like we did this past week we're on teams and we make it difficult for them.."

NOTES: Maple Leafs D Mark Fraser (left knee) did not play Tuesday and is listed as day-to-day after tweaking his knee during Saturday's 4-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres. He missed 13 games after suffering a torn medial collateral ligament Oct. 2 at Philadelphia. ... Leafs C Tyler Bozak (hamstring) had his first full workout Monday since being injured in Columbus on Oct. 25 but likely will not play until the weekend. ... Islanders LW Thomas Vanek (upper body) missed his fifth game in a row Tuesday while RW Michael Grabner, who has two points since the third game of the season, was a healthy for the first time since Oct. 9, 2010. ... The Islanders put G Evgeni Nabokov (groin) on injured reserve and recalled G Anders Nilsson from Bridgeport of the American Hockey League.
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