TORONTO -- Right winger Phil Kessel scored three goals -- including the go-ahead goal in the third period - and that was the main reason the Toronto Maple Leafs stormed back to defeat the Ottawa Senators 6-3 on Saturday night.
But center Nazem Kadri's check behind the Ottawa net during the second period on defenseman Cody Ceci led to the goal that tied the score 2-2 and helped create the momentum for Kessel's heroics.
Kadri hit Ceci from behind on the play and then passed the puck to uncovered left winger Joffrey Lupul, who scored his 17th goal of the season.
There was no penalty called.
"We have no control over that part of it," Senators coach Paul MacLean said. "If it's a two-minute or a five-minute penalty, that's way more significant than it being 2-2. So I would say it is definitely a significant play in the game."
Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said, "Kadri really hit him from the side. He didn't hit him in the numbers. That Ceci kid did go in awkwardly."
Kadri said, "I just went in to forecheck, really. And I think he turned to try to box me out a little bit and I just finished my check and the puck was laying there and I found Lupes."
That set up a hectic third period in which the Maple Leafs scored four goals. Twice Kessel gave the Maple Leafs the lead.
The Maple Leafs went ahead to stay when Kessel scored his third goal of the game and his 30th of the season at 14:02 of the third after the Maple Leafs took advantage of an Ottawa giveaway. The crowd littered the ice with hats after the goal.
Center Tyler Bozak added the clincher with his 11th goal of the season at 18:37. Kadri scored into an empty net, his 15th goal of the season, at 19:31.
"I thought we weren't really good with the puck," Carlyle said. "We were sloppy with the puck. When the dust settles, Phil finds away to make a huge contribution. The thing that got us going was the power play goal."
Kessel said, "I've had chances in a couple games before and obviously they went in tonight. We're improving as a team and we've always got to prove it throughout the year and find a way to get it done."
It was the sixth win in a row at home for the Maple Leafs (30-21-6) and their third straight overall. The loss ended a two-game streak by the Senators (24-21-10).
Right winger Chris Neil scored twice and had an assist for the Senators, who also had a goal and an assist from left winger Colin Greening.
Jonathan Bernier made 23 saves in the Maple Leafs goal. Senators goaltender Craig Anderson stopped 30 shots.
"I don't think we were horrible the whole night long," MacLean said. "But I just felt there were times when we werent under siege that we gave pucks away and that's something we haven't done in a long time."
Kessel scored his second goal of the game on a power play at 7:34 of the third period to put the Maple Leafs into a 3-2 lead.
Ottawa tied the score on the second goal of the game and the eighth of the season by Neil at 9:06 of the third. A video review confirmed that the puck entered the goal before the whistle sounded.
After Ottawa opened a 2-0 lead, the Maple Leafs struck for goals 1:38 apart in the second period to tie the score.
Kessel scored on a 12-foot snap shot at 13:01 on a pass from left winger James van Riemsdyk.
Kadri set up the tying goal at 14:39 with his hit on Ceci behind the Ottawa goal before making the pass to Lupul.
"I just turned my back a bit and I went face-first into the boards," Ceci said. "Unfortunately, we didn't get a call on the play. I was a little surprised. I guess I could've stayed down a little longer, but I tried the best I could to make a play and they scored right after that."
Kadri said, "I think he turned to just give himself a little more room at that point I'm just fully committed to the hit and I just finished my check. To be honest, I did let up a little bit and the puck was laying there and I just put it in front."
Anderson said the play would not have been so significant if Lupul had been covered.
"It was just a missed assignment," he said.