Morgan Rielly of the Toronto Maple Leafs gets tripped up...

Morgan Rielly of the Toronto Maple Leafs gets tripped up by Mats Zuccarello of the Rangers during NHL action at the Air Canada Centre Nov. 8, 2014 in Toronto. Credit: Getty Images / Abelimages

Defense? Not when the Rangers meet the Maple Leafs.

The teams scored nine goals a month ago at Madison Square Garden, and they matched that Saturday night at Air Canada Centre.

The Rangers' two-way game collapsed in front of backup goaltender Cam Talbot in a 5-4 loss. Leo Komarov's first goal of the season, after a terribly soft clearing attempt off the boards by defenseman Matt Hunwick and with no forwards back, broke a 4-4 tie at 14:26 of the third period.

"On their winning goal, if you look at the final picture, they almost got a four-on-0 on our goaltender," coach Alain Vigneault said.

The Rangers (6-5-2), who lost to the Maple Leafs, 6-3, on Oct. 12, grabbed a 4-3 lead in the third period Saturday night. Rick Nash scored his 11th goal of the season at 4:33 off a beautiful backhand feed from Martin St. Louis.

But in what has become a regular occurrence, the Rangers couldn't hold the lead. Nazem Kadri kept the puck in the Blueshirts' zone, David Clarkson screened Talbot and Roman Polak's shot tied it at 4 for the Leafs (7-5-2) at 7:27.

Talbot was pulled for an extra attacker with 1:40 left, but Mats Zuccarello fanned on a one-timer while all alone in the slot and Jonathan Bernier (31 saves) held on for the win.

"When we're winning games, it's a simple formula," Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi said. "We're taking care of the slot and not leaving the middle open. The turnovers . . . we can't give them two-on-ones, three-on-twos. They'll make you pay."

With the Rangers trailing 3-2, Carl Hagelin scored at 17:44 of the second period. After a turnover in the Leafs' zone, Dominic Moore's backhanded pass found Hagelin alone in front and he beat Bernier five-hole to tie it.

But the pace had evolved into a scenario that cannot bode well for the Blueshirts.

"It's the kind of game we didn't want to happen, back and forth," Zuccarello said. "I felt like we were creating a lot, but it's not enough when you don't win the game. Defensively, it's not enough. We've got to help [Talbot] more."

"We kind of traded chances with them tonight and that's never really our game plan," Talbot said. "Any time you trade chances with a team like that, you're playing with fire. At the same time, you go down to the other end and score four goals, you should win the game. I've got to come up with a couple of more saves."

The Rangers took a quick 1-0 lead. Chris Kreider bumped Mike Santorelli into the boards, the puck went to Kevin Klein at the right point and Kreider tipped Klein's shot past Bernier just 53 seconds into the game. It was Kreider's fourth goal.

The Leafs then scored three goals, two on special teams.

The first came on a five-on-three. Conor Allen went off for roughing at 7:41, a call that Vigneault questioned from the bench. The damage multiplied when Hagelin went off at 8:03 for hooking Kadri. Twenty-four seconds later, the Leafs tied it at 1-1 when James Van Riemsdyk set up Phil Kessel at the left post for his eighth of the season.

The go-ahead goal came shorthanded at 15:11 of the first. Zuccarello's pass was blocked by Komarov, Hunwick fumbled the puck and Peter Holland deked Talbot to make it 2-1.

Richard Panik snapped a loose puck in the slot past Talbot with Michael Kostka and Derick Brassard watching at 18:59 to make it 3-1. But Kreider found Zuccarello in front, and he shoved it past Bernier at 19:20 as the Rangers cut it to 3-2 after one period.

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