Van Riemsdyk scores winner as Maple Leafs defeat Devils 2-1 in a shootout

Friday, 11.08.2013 / 10:45 PM The Canadian Press

TORONTO - James van Riemsdyk scored on a low wrist shot to give the Toronto Maple Leafs a 2-1 shootout win over the New Jersey Devils on Friday night in NHL play.

Cory Schneider stopped Toronto's Mason Raymond and Phil Kessel before van Riemsdyk's goal. Adam Henrique then fired wide for the Devils.

Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan's Bernier bested Michael Ryder. Travis Zajac had Bernier beat but hit the post.

Schneider made a great save on Kessel on a Leafs three-on-one in an exciting overtime to help force the shootout.

Kessel scored a beauty on the power play midway through the third period to open the scoring.

It was a marvellous solo rush for the Leafs sniper who skated through two Devils before beating Schneider between the legs at 8:12. Kessel's 10th goal of the season ended a Toronto scoreless stretch of almost 110 minutes.

It looked like the Kessel goal might be enough until Bernier, who had been excellent hitherto, seemed to misplay a shot from the right flank from Ryder, with the puck angling high off the goalie's stick into the net at 15:15. Ryder got credit for his fifth of the season.

Kessel was in the box, with 11 second left for a slashing penalty.

The Leafs' power play, which came into the game fifth in the league, had failed on four previous man-advantage opportunities in the game prior to the Kessel goal. And the Leafs star had been guilty of several giveaways.

Bernier, who stopped 41 of 43 shots in Calgary last time out, had to be sharp to keep the Leafs in it as Toronto was outshot 35-28 — the 13th straight game and 14th in 16 this season that the opposition has outshot the Leafs.

Schneider was also steady in the Devils goal.

Toronto (11-5-0) has now won five of its last seven. The Leafs were well-rested, having not played since a 4-0 loss in Vancouver last Saturday.

The Devils (4-7-5) were coming off a 3-0 win in Philadelphia on Thursday, with Martin Brodeur posting a 22-save shutout — the 122nd of his career. New Jersey had lost its two previous games, both shutouts.

The Leafs play Saturday in Boston, the site of their Game 7 collapse in the first round of last season's playoffs.

The 2013 Hockey Hall of Fame Game, which drew a crowd of 19,377 that included Prime Minister Stephen Harper, featured pre-game appearances by former Devils Scott Niedermayer and Brendan Shanahan as well as Chris Chelios and Geraldine Heaney. The late Fred Shero will also be inducted as part of the class of 2013 on Monday.

With centres Tyler Bozak and Dave Bolland both injured, van Riemsdyk shifted from wing to centre Joffrey Lupul and Kessel on Toronto's top line. His last duty at centre was at the University of New Hampshire.

The line had plenty of ice time, thanks to a parade of New Jersey penalties, but seemed to overcomplicate the buildup some times.

Former Devil David Clarkson almost scored on the Leafs' first shot, cruising in from the slot while protecting the puck from a New Jersey defenceman. His shot got past Schneider but a Devil poked it away before it could trickle over the line.

Toronto had several glorious chances to go ahead on a power play late in the first period that started with a four-minute high-sticking penalty to New Jersey's Mattias Tedenby and turned into a 44-second five-on-three when Peter Harrold was called for tripping.

The Leafs came very close but could not take advantage.

Clarkson, meanwhile, renewed acquaintances by trading hacks with defenceman Marek Zidlicky after a stoppage.

Toronto had a sluggish start to the second period with an overly elaborate Kessel continuing to give the puck away. Bernier had to be sharp on several occasions as Toronto, after outshooting the Devils 8-7 in the first period, was outshot 15-8 in the second.

Devils forward Stephen Gionta was helped off the ice in the second period after sliding awkwardly into the boards.

New Jersey's Jaromir Jagr (with 685 goals and 1,014 assists) came into the game needing just one point to become the eighth player in NHL history to reach the 1,700-point plateau. The 41-year-old Jagr, who opened his NHL account in 1990 as a Penguin, joins Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Gordie Howe, Ron Francis, Marcel Dionne, Steve Yzerman and Mario Lemieux.

Jagr set the stage for reaching the milestone with an empty-net goal in Philadelphia.

Hard-nosed Toronto forward Colton Orr, who missed the morning skate in what was deemed a "maintenance morning," did not play. Instead the Leafs dressed seven defenceman with Mark Fraser returning from injury.

NOTES — The game marked the first Friday night home contest in Toronto since Dec. 23, 2005 — a 2-1 win over Boston. It also represented Randy Carlyle's 82nd game as Toronto coach. He came in with a 42-31-8 record ... The Leafs won all three regular-season meetings with the Devils last season.

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