TORONTO — Despite matching a career-high with a four-point night in Toronto’s 6-5 overtime victory against the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night, Nazem Kadri knows the Maple Leafs will be in for a lengthy video session prior to Friday’s practice.
The Maple Leafs blew a 4-1 lead in a 9:23 span and trailed 5-4 before Connor Brown’s first career NHL goal at 15:37 of the third tied the game to force overtime.
“I’m sure (Mike Babcock) isn’t a huge fan of these ones, but as players, they’re fun to play in,” said Kadri, who snapped an 11-game drought with his first period goal. “I’m sure there’s going to be a few (defensive) zone clips tomorrow.”
The Ducks (40-23-10) clinched a playoff berth thanks to getting a point for the overtime loss. Anaheim is headed to the postseason for the fourth consecutive season and the ninth time in 11 years.
Brandon Pirri gave the Ducks a 5-4 lead at 8:17 of the final frame, but Anaheim could not hang on.
Anaheim dropped to 1-1-1 on its current five-game Canadian road trip, which continues Saturday in Ottawa.
“We had some guys step up and make some plays,” said Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf. “You saw on the goals, we executed properly and we were able to maintain puck control, those kinds of things.
“You have to against a team like that. They’re going to work.”
Tyler Bozak scored a pair of goals in his return to the lineup and Frank Corrado had the other goal for Toronto (27-35-11). Garret Sparks made 33 saves for his sixth career victory.
Jamie McGinn scored twice while Andrew Cogliano and Ryan Garbutt had the others for Anaheim. Frederik Andersen stopped 20 shots in the loss.
“The first 38 minutes we didn’t compete. It’s simple,” said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. “They were getting the pucks deep and beating us to the punch. We scored the first power play goal but we must have given the puck away six times in the next five minutes.
“To the team’s credit in the third period, or even at the end of the second, they never quit.”
The Ducks’ No. 1 ranked penalty kill surrendered three goals on five Maple Leafs opportunities in the loss.
With the win the Maple Leafs improved to 8-0-1 against the Ducks in the teams’ past nine meetings on Toronto. The Leafs are 5-1-0 in their past six games overall and 4-1-0 during a six-game homestand.
“The puck went in the net for both teams obviously a lot,” said Babcock. “I thought we had the game well in hand, and they shot it in the net a couple times. I thought they took over at the start of the third period and did a good job there – had their way with us for a little bit.”
Toronto swept the two-game season series with Anaheim winning both meetings by a combined 10-5 score.
“They’re a good team, if we’re not on top of our game, they’re going to embarrass you,” said Kadri of the Leaf recent success against Anaheim. “I think it’s just being prepared and mentally ready and just sharp between the ears.”
The game also presented an opportunity for Kadri to go head-to-head with Getzlaf in the face-off circle for much of the night.
“Just be strong, just be always above him, try to give him no space,” said Kadri of the battle. “I mean offensively as an offensive player, I know how frustrating that is with someone being in your face all the time.”
The 25-year-old finish the night winning 7-of-11 draws while Getzlaf, who finished a minus-2 with an assist in the loss, won 50 percent of his face-offs.
“My mindset has totally changed,” said Kadri. “Before I went pro, taking face-offs, if I won them, I won them, if I lost them, I didn’t really… I mean half the time I was trying to go forward on draws anyway. Try to create offense.
“This is definitely something different, but I embraced it, I took it as a challenge and I do understand that good defense leads to offense.”
Toronto concludes its homestand on Saturday when they play host to the Boston Bruins.
NOTES: C Ryan Kesler (personal) and D Simon Despres (concussion symptoms) were sent home from the road trip by the Ducks. … Anaheim recalled D Shea Theodore from the American Hockey League’s San Diego Gulls on Wednesday. … Leafs C Tyler Bozak returned to the lineup after missing 21 games because of a concussion. … C Frederik Gauthier was reassigned to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies on Wednesday. … Ducks C Shawn Horcoff played in his 1,000th NHL game on Thursday. … Ducks LW David Perron (shoulder) missed his second game because of injury.