Nazem Kadri put the Maple Leafs on his back Thursday night and scored his first career hat trick.  The 22-year-old highly touted centre scored his sixth, seven and eighth goals of the season before captain Dion Phaneuf notched the game winner at 1:11 of overtime.


The 5-4  Toronto victory over the New York Islanders on Long Island was a huge bounce back game for the Leafs after laying a dud against Montreal on Wednesday.  Phaneuf’s fourth goal of the season lifted Toronto to its third straight win and fourth in five games. James Van Riemsdyk had the other goal for the Maple Leafs, who improved their record to 9-4 on the road.


“I did the best I could and it felt great to help the team win,” said Kadri, who currently leads the Leafs with 21 points. “That was a huge second point for us to get.”


Kadri became the first Toronto player to record a hat trick at Nassau Coliseum since Paul Henderson did it on Feb. 20, 1974.


“Dion (Phaneuf) grabbed the hat trick puck for me so I’m really excited to have that,” said Kadri, whose last hat trick came as member of the London Knights of the OHL. “I have high expectations for myself so this is a proud moment for me.”


“There’s no question he is a gifted player,” Phaneuf said of Kadri. “I’m happy for him and I’m happy for us because we stuck with our game plan and kept battling after the Islanders tied it. This was a big bounce-back game for us.”


Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer (7-3-0) was making his first start since Feb. 11 thanks to a knee injury. Toronto improved to 13-9-0 with the Thursdays win.


“This was a big win and we have to build on this one,” said Reimer, after his 23 save performance.


Toronto has the weekend off and don’t play again until Monday when they host the Devils.





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