Newark, NJ - The New Jersey Devils defeated David Clarkson and the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 tonight, handing the Leafs their fifth straight loss.
The Devils played very well for the entire game, taking a 3-0 lead in the second period.
Damien Brunner opened up the scoring with a 2-on-1 with Adam Henrique. Henrique sent the puck to the right circle for Brunner, who beat James Reimer glove-side. Brunner was in the lineup tonight after being a healthy scratch the last two games.
Early in the second period, the Devils scored two goals just 32-seconds away from each other. Patrik Elias scored a breakaway goal by faking a slapshot then going backhand.
The Devils final goal came from Jon Merrill’s second career goal. Merrill took a slapshot from the point that trickled through Reimer’s arm and over the line.
Toronto decided to pull Reimer and replace him with minor-league goaltender Drew MacIntyre. MacIntyre stopped all 14-shots he faced in 36-minutes of ice time.
The Leafs started mounting a comeback after scoring their first goal at 5:26 in the second period on a powerplay goal from Tyler Bozak.
The turning point of the game was when the Devils killed off a 5-on-3 powerplay late in the second period. The Leafs had momentum coming off of their powerplay goal from Bozak and another powerplay goal would have seriously hurt the Devils.
The Devils played a solid defensive game during the third period, but once the goalie was pulled they had a defensive breakdown leading to a breakaway goal from Phil Kessel. Cory Schneider made a few huge saves after that to keep the Devils lead alive.
The Devils currently sit five points out of the eighth spot Leafs, who have lost five straight games now. Their playoff hopes are dwindling fast. The Devils need to win most of their remaining games to get to the playoffs. They have three days of rest before taking on the Phoenix Coyotes at the Prudential Center.