The Toronto Maple Leafs beat the New Jersey Devils 2-1 in regulation last night! On top of the victory, the blue and white successfully ended the New Jersey Devils 13 game winning streak. After coming into the game without three of the Maple Leafs top six defensemen, they battled through adversity and found a way to beat one of the hottest teams in the National Hockey League. The team has now gotten points in six straight games as they look to a back-to-back this weekend in Minnesota and Pittsburgh.
In the opening period, the Maple Leafs came out flying! For the second game in a row, the Maple Leafs were strong early, forcing Vanecek to be sharp early. After some nice opportunities created by the blue and white, it was actually the New Jersey Devils who looked like they scored. A shot from the point found its way by Leafs goaltender Matt Murray but was ultimately waved off due to goaltender interference. Devils forward Nathan Bastian’s skate clipped Murray enough for it to be called back. After the controversial call to bring back the Devils goal, approaching the mid-way point of the period, Maple Leafs captain John Tavares scored his 12th of the year! A nifty feed in front by Mitch Marner found Tavares right in the slot! A great assist by Marner, who battled Devils defenseman Dougie Hamilton down low. After Mitch extended his 14 game point streak, Maple Leafs rookie Pontus Holmberg scored his first NHL goal! A whirlwind of excitement filled all of Leafs nation in the span of three minutes! The Maple Leafs took a 2-0 lead heading into the second period.
Despite finishing the period with all the momentum and leading the shots totals 10-5, it was the Devils who came out with a bite. A packed Prudential Center in New Jersey erupted for the second time tonight for a goal that was pulled back. This time a shot from the point hit the back of the goal after Devils forward Thomas Tatar, swept Murray off his feet. The Maple Leafs goaltender was playing the puck and lost his footing giving him no chance to make the save. As boos roared in New Jersey, the Maple Leafs started to feel tense. A penalty each to Kerfoot and then John Tavares only made it even more uncomfortable. However, Leafs goaltender Matt Murray was sharp, and so was 39-year-old Leafs defenseman Mark Giordano to keep away the danger. The second period was the only period in this one that didn’t have a goal. New Jersey clearly had the bulk of the better opportunities after the Maple Leafs productive start.
In the third and final frame, things got a little out of hand, to say the least. After the Prudential Center roared for what was supposed to be their first goal of the game, it was yet again called off. This time for a kicking motion by Devils forward Erik Haula. This was the third goal waved off for the New Jersey Devils in this one, and the fans were not happy. After the call was confirmed, New Jersey Devils supporters started throwing items onto the ice. A real ugly scene in New Jersey had to put that game on pause, sending the Maple Leafs to evacuate the bench. After play resumed, the Devils fan finally had a goal to cheer for. This one would count as Devils forward Dougie Hamilton scored his 6th of the season. Vanecek made some big-time saves to keep the Devils within a goal, but it wasn’t enough in the end. Despite coming so close late, the Leafs held off the Devils for a 2-1 final score.
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