There are nights when you understand Brian Burke's thinking.

There are nights when Phil Kessel shows so much offensive flair, so much natural skill, so much domination in both the offensive zone and on the scoresheet that, well, after watching such a show, you can see why the beleaguered Maple Leafs general manager paid such a heavy price to land the gifted winger from the Boston Bruins.

Thursday evening at the raucous Bell Centre in Montreal was such a night.

Phil The Thrill might never be worth the two first-round and the second-round pick Burke sent to shrewd Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli in September of 2009. Among other things, he's too inconsistent. But every now and then, when he gets on a run like he is right now, Kessel's natural goal-scoring talents reach the type of elite level that few players in the league not named Stamkos or Crosby can relate to.

By the time the famous Montreal siren had wailed to mark the end of the game, Kessel had scored twice and chipped in with two assists en route to helping the Leafs defeat the rival Canadiens 5-4.

Recently mired in the type of slump that had him questioning all parts of his game — including the team he was playing for — Kessel has responded strongly just when the suddenly surging Leafs needed him most.