NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils goaltender Cory Schneider did all he could to give his team a chance against the Toronto Maple Leafs. His teammates responded in a big way late in the game on the way to a come-from-behind 2-1 shootout victory at Prudential Center on Wednesday.
Schneider, who was making his League-leading 42nd start, made 29 saves through 65 minutes before forcing Mike Santorelli to shoot wide and stopping Tyler Bozak in the second round of the shootout. Josefson scored to start the second round and Elias ended the game by beating Toronto goalie Jonathan Bernier with a backhander in the third round.
"It wasn't a pretty game but Cory Schneider, without question, played outstanding throughout," Devils interim co-coach Lou Lamoriello said.
Bernier finished with 22 saves through overtime.
Devils defenseman Adam Larsson, who earned 24:59 of ice time and generated a team-high four shots, tied the game at 1-1 with 2:50 remaining in regulation when he fired a wrist shot from the right point that ticked off the right post and past Bernier. It was Larsson's first goal in 27 games.
"I just tried to get it past the first layer of guys," Larsson said. "There were a lot of guys in front and luckily it went all the way through. I wasn't aiming, just trying to get it there and it was quicker to use the wrist shot."
There's no question that Larsson has been playing with much more poise since the coaching change 12 games ago. The Devils are 6-5-1 since Peter DeBoer was let go and the trio of Scott Stevens, Adam Oates and Lamoriello took over behind the bench.
"[The coaching staff] trusts me and I think that's all I needed," Larsson said. "I needed guys that showed they trusted me, and then it's up to yourself if you want to be out there. It's nice to play through mistakes, but at the end of the day it's up to how you play.
"I'm feeling confident and I feel I can make mistakes and play through them."
Larsson, 22, also credited defense partner Andy Greene for playing a big part in aiding him in every aspect of his game. Lamoriello agreed with Larsson's self-assessment.
"I think it's all confidence," Lamoriello said. "You can't put added pressure on him and you have to learn from mistakes and that's what he is going through, like any young player. Especially a defenseman, they don't come into their own until they are 24, 25, 26 years old."
Schneider has seen Larsson's confidence growing with each game.
"He's been a rock back there for us, and I think we all feel he has some offensive potential that maybe you guys haven't seen yet," Schneider said. "He's focused on the defensive end, which is great, but as we go forward and he develops more, you'll see more of that offense."
James van Riemsdyk had given the Maple Leafs a 1-0 lead midway through the third on his eighth shot of the game. The native of Middletown, N.J., took a pass from Bozak in stride at the Devils' blue line, broke in against Schneider and backhanded a shot between his pads on a breakaway at 11:49.
"I thought I was with it and I was and I think my pad came down on top of my stick so I was more mad at myself because I felt that I knew what he was going to do but my pad didn't get down," Schneider said. "He slipped it under so I was more upset with myself than anything but I'm glad we still got the win."
The goal was the second for van Riemsdyk in as many games after he went five games without scoring.
"I thought we played a pretty solid game; the shootout is always a coin flip," van Riemsdyk said. "It's been a tough stretch for us, there's no hiding that."
Bernier preserved the lead with less than five minutes remaining in the third when he got his left pad on Mike Cammalleri's solo break-in.
"We stuck with it and it would have been nice [to win]," Bernier said. "We have to feel good about ourselves. We got a point; there were a lot of positives."
The victory by the Devils (18-22-8) was their third in four games (3-1-0). New Jersey will continue its five-game homestand against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday. The Maple Leafs, who were without captain Dion Phaneuf (hand), lost their seventh straight game. Toronto (22-23-4) returns home to play against the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday before embarking on a three-game road trip against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday and the Nashville Predators on Feb. 3 before returning to New Jersey on Feb. 6.
If not for Schneider, the Maple Leafs might have been able to turn their five power-play opportunities into an early lead. The Maple Leafs, who went 0-for-5 with the man-advantage, had 12 power-play shots stopped by Schneider; many of them came off the stick of van Riemsdyk and Bozak from close or point-blank range.
"I thought 5-on-5 we didn't give up a whole lot, but they have some great players and patience and they shoot and make plays," Schneider said. "You really have to hold the fort and bend but don't break. We blocked some big shots and got some good clears. Your goalie also has to come up with a couple big saves so we were fortunate not to get burned on those."
Schneider also received a bit of luck when a blast by Leo Komarov from the left hash hit the far post midway through the second period.
Schneider made seven saves in the first, including five during Toronto's first power play after Jordin Tootoo was called for tripping with seven minutes left. Schneider made consecutive stops against van Riemsdyk and Bozak to keep the game scoreless. Devils' penalty-killers Adam Henrique, Josefson, Larsson and Greene were forced to remain on the ice for the full two minutes.
"No game is easy, especially after eight days off," Elias said. "It wasn't a pretty game, no question. We didn't play great but [Schneider] was awesome. He gave us a chance, especially on their power plays. They had a lot of quality chances and he allowed us to stay in the game."