Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Nazem Kadri Continues to Impress as Maple Leafs Beat Ducks in Overtime

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Nazem Kadri Continues to Impress as Maple Leafs Beat Ducks in Overtime

Article excerpt

Kadri's big night leads Leafs over Ducks

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TORONTO - Nazem Kadri thinks about the game differently than he might have as a younger player now that he's more than 300 games into his NHL career.

"My mindset's totally changed," said Kadri. "Before I went pro, taking faceoffs, if I won them I won them if I lost them I lost them. Half the time I was trying to go forward on draws anyway to try to create offence."

It's not simply the points now that are driving Kadri.

The 25-year-old has evolved into a better all-around player from the offence-first approach of his younger years. He matched a career-high with four points Thursday night against Ryan Getzlaf and the Ducks, including the overtime winner, as the Toronto Maple Leafs topped Anaheim 6-5.

It was Toronto's fifth victory in the past six games while the Ducks clinched a playoff spot by picking up a point.

Kadri finished the game with two goals, two assists and a 64 per cent success rate on the draw. He also managed to keep Getzlaf off the scoreboard entirely at even strength. The Anaheim captain was held to only a power-play assist.

Kadri said his primary goal against Getzlaf was containment, "because now I understand that it translates to offensive chances."

"I thought he was real good," Leafs coach Mike Babcock said of Kadri's efforts against Getzlaf.

"Naz is a brave guy. He's nasty to play against. He competes hard. He wants to do it right ... And he doesn't back up to anybody. I think a big part of playing against good players is being mean enough to do it and compete hard enough to do it and he does that."

Babcock challenged Kadri to become a more reliable defensive player earlier this season and someone who could tangle with players like Getzlaf on a nightly basis.

Babcock wanted evolution and improvement in a season that was easily the most important in Kadri's career.

Inked to a one-year contract last summer following a turbulent 2014-15 season, and due to be a restricted agent again come July, Kadri had to demonstrate to Babcock and the Maple Leafs that he was worth investing in long-term.

He seems to have proven that point with an effective all-around season. …

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