The puck stops here.
It's a familiar phrase New Jersey Devils fans have grown accustomed to using when describing the exploits of their netminder, Martin Brodeur.
Unfortunately, for the Toronto Maple Leafs, it's a phrase that spelled a halt to their three-game winning streak last night.
Brodeur stopped 34 shots, including a game-clinching kick save with nine seconds remaining, as the Devils edged the Leafs 3-2 before 15,291 fans at the new Prudential Center.
Forward John Madden, returning to the lineup after missing two games due to an ankle injury, scored twice for the Devils. Travis Zajac added the other New Jersey goal.
Pavel Kubina and Darcy Tucker responded for the Leafs in the third period, after New Jersey had built a 3-0 lead.
The story of the game was Brodeur, who won for the 25th time this season. He built a brick wall in front of his net for two periods, stopping 23 Leaf shots. His best save of the night came when he robbed Alex Steen twice in the dying seconds.
At the other end, Andrew Raycroft made 26 saves in the Toronto net. His only blunder of the night came when he gave up a juicy rebound to Zajac on the Devils' opening goal.
After the game, rumours were still circulating that Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr. was about to be fired. Former Leafs GM Cliff Fletcher is said to be the leading candidate for the position.
With the loss, Toronto dropped its record to 19-22-8. They remain last in the Northeast division with 46 points, and 13th in the Eastern Conference. New Jersey, meanwhile, improved to 27-17-3. They are tied for first in the Atlantic Division alongside Pittsburgh and Philadelphia with 57 points, and sit fourth in the conference.
The next action for the Leafs comes Wednesday night, when Alexander Ovechkin and his Washington Capitals make their second visit to the Air Canada Center. Last October, the Capitals pummelled the Leafs, 7-1, at the ACC.
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