Leafs-Devils: Toronto Spins Past New Jersey in Shootout
Just in like their first meeting, the New Jersey Devils and Toronto Maple Leafs needed a shootout to decide a winner. And, as was the case back on Oct. 29, the Leafs came away with the extra point, beating the Devils at the Air Canada Center Tuesday.
The Maple Leafs' Jason Blake beat Devils' goalie Scott Clemmensen with a Savardian spinorama move for the game's deciding goal in the shootout as the Leafs edged the Devils, 3-2.
Back in October in New Jersey, the Leafs roughed up now-injured Devils net-minder Martin Brodeur for five goals in a 6-5 shootout victory.
The win by Toronto was the club's third in a row, something the team had yet to accomplish this season.
Nik Antropov and Jeremy Williams scored for Toronto during regulation, while Zach Parise and Michael Rupp replied for the Devils.
Rupp opened the scoring in the first period with an unassisted tally at 1:49.
He was Johnny-on-the-Spot in the offensive zone, tapping home a loose puck over a prone Leafs goalie Vesa Toskala.
Despite not earning an assist on the play, speedy Devils forward John Madden was instrumental on the goal drawing both Leafs defenceman down low leaving a streaking Rupp an open lane to the net.
The goal marked the 19th time in 30 games where the Leafs allowed the opposition to score the first goal of the hockey game. In one other match on Oct. 17, the Leafs and Rangers played to a scoreless draw with New York winning in the shootout.
It was a typical New Jersey period, tight-checking and solid goal-tending from Clemmensen, who was starting his first game against his former team after spending the majority of the season with Toronto's AHL affiliate, the Marlies.
Clemmensen had an easy opening period, turning aside only five Leaf shots. Toskala faced nine Devil pucks.
After killing an early hooking penalty to blue-liner Mike Van Ryn, the Maple Leafs tied the game as Antropov banged home a rebound off a Tomas Kaberle point shot at 7:24.
The goal was Antropov's 11th of the season, with center Matt Stajan earning the extra helper. Kudos to rookie forward Nikolai Kulemin who twice fought for the loose puck in the New Jersey end before the goal was scored.
Toronto continued to pressure the Devils and they were rewarded for their efforts. Williams just kept a puck in the Devils end, took two strides then labeled a snapshot past Clemmensen to give the Leafs the 2-1 lead at 15:06.
It was Jeremy's third goal of the season and seventh of his NHL career on just 26 shots, a shooting percentage of 26 percent.
Jeff Finger was in the box after he tripped pint-size Devils forward Brian Gionta at 18:36. Just over a minute later at 19:40, Parise and his mates were celebrating the game's tying goal.
Parise had his shot attempt bounce off his visor and past a startled Toskala. Patrik Elias and Paul Martin received the assists on the play.
Toronto prior to the goal enjoyed a decided edge in play in that second stanza, out-shooting New Jersey 10-9. The Devils had only 4 shots at the 15 minute mark of the second.
Toronto entered the third period as the NHL's top team in goal differential, having scored 15 more than they have allowed (35-20).
Early in the third, Elias took a needless tripping penalty two-hundred feet from his own end, when he hauled down Finger. But, the Leafs failed to capitalize on the power-play. They even gave a glorious shorthanded attempt as Madden missed badly on a Devils 2-on-1 attempt.
A couple minutes later, Devils forward Travis Zajac missed another wonderful scoring opportunity when he one-timed a centering pass over a wide-open Leafs cage.
Toronto dominated the shots-on-goal in the third period by a 9-1 margin. The only shot registered by New Jersey came off the stick of Elias.
Elias began the five-minute overtime session tied with Jaromir Jagr and former Leafs captain Mats Sundin with the most goals in extra time (15).
Zajac had the best chance to win the game in OT, but Toskala stopped him on a breakaway with seconds to go.
Toronto will be on the road for five of their next six games. On Thursday, they travel to Boston to face off against the conference-leading Bruins.
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