|John Madden's 14th career shorthanded goal helped lift the New Jersey Devils to a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Madden was ready to dump the puck into Toronto’s zone and head off the ice on a penalty-killing shift late in the third period. But his teammates yelled at him to carry the puck and challenge goalie Vesa Toskala. It was good advice: Madden kept the puck, raced into the zone and beat Toskala with a wrist shot to break a 1-1 tie and lead the Devils to a 3-2 victory.
“When I was racing for the puck, I knew it was (Jason) Blake on my shoulder and I had all intentions of clearing it down the ice,” Madden said after scoring his 14th career shorthanded goal and first in two seasons. “Then I heard someone on the bench say: ‘You got him.’”
Madden took their advice after picking up defenseman Andy Greene's pass in center ice. He skated in on Toskala and beat him with a shot over the glove.
“I thought Kabby (defenseman Tomas Kaberle) was coming over,” Blake, one of the NHL’s fastest skaters, said after Toronto’s second straight loss. ''But he (Madden) was there and got the puck. I really don’t think it would have mattered.”
The goal continued Madden’s fast start – the veteran checking center and longtime linemate Jay Pandolfo share the team lead with six goals.
Giving up a shorthanded goal to the NHL’s worst penalty-killing team left Toronto coach Paul Maurice furious.
“Our power play hasn't been winning us games, and now it's costing us games,” Maurice said.
“We're just going to dismantle it; try a whole bunch of new people, and try to simplify it.
“The power play can’t hurt you,” he added. “If it’s not scoring goals, that’s one thing. But it cannot hurt you like that.”
Zach Parise added what proved to be the game-winner 97 seconds later, converting his own rebound.
“It seemed like I had five (cracks) at it,” Parise said. “One shot was blocked by the D, then another, a third and the fourth one went in.”
Parise’s goal proved to be the winner when Mats Sundin’s pass from behind the net hit goaltender Martin Brodeur’s skate and deflected into the net with 32 seconds left. But Brodeur finished with 26 saves for his 498th career victory – and even picked up an assist on David Clarkson’s first career goal at 14:17 of the first period. Alex Steen tied the game midway through the second with a highlight-reel goal, backhanding the puck through Brodeur’s legs.
However, Brodeur kept the Devils in the game through the first two periods, when they were outplayed for long segments and were outshot 20-9.
“Our goaltender was outstanding,” Devils coach Brent Sutter said. “What can you say? He was in the groove and he played very, very well. He gave us a chance to get our act together in the third period.”
The Devils improved to 5-6-1 and have won back-to-back games in their new home, the Prudential Center.
“We’re starting to play better,” Parise said. “We’re not making as many mistakes. Everyone is finding his role and doing his job better than earlier in the season.”
Material from wire services and team media were used in this report.