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Devils can't bounce back against Maple Leafs

The equalizer never came and New Jersey fell to Toronto, 4-2

by Amanda Stein @amandacstein /

The New Jersey Devils returned home to Prudential Center to face one of the top teams in the NHL on Thursday night. With the Toronto Maple Leafs in town, the Devils made it a close game after trailing 3-0 after the first period to get within a goal after 40 minutes of play.

Unfortunately for the Devils, the equalizer never came and New Jersey fell to Toronto, 4-2. 

Here are 10 takeaways from the game:

1. Called up earlier in the day from Binghamton, forward Kevin Rooney returned to the Devils lineup. The last time the 25-year-old played for New Jersey was a four-game stint between October 20th and November 1st. While in Binghamton, Rooney played 34 games with one goal and 16 assists. 

Against Toronto, Rooney centered the fourth line with Brian Boyle and fellow call-up Blake Pietila. Rooney played 7:55 with two shots on goal and ended the night a +1.

2. The Devils were backstopped by goaltender Keith Kinkaid, who started his 30th game of the season. Kinkaid's first period is probably one that he would have liked to redo after giving up three goals on 15 shots. While you can't take back a period, you can certainly stand strong the rest of the way to keep your team in the game and that's what Kinkaid did. Kinkaid shut the door the rest of the way, stopping all 13 shots he faced in the second period and another 14 in the third. In all, Kinkaid made 39 saves on 42 shots faced.

3. Prudential Center hosted 80's Night at The Rock as one of the Devils theme nights this season. With in-game entertainment straight out of the 80's, throwbacks to the Meadowlands and more. With the Devils franchise on the rise and acquiring young talent, only seven members of the current New Jersey Devils roster were born in the 80's: Andy Greene (1982), Ben Lovejoy (1984), Brian Boyle (1984), Travis Zajac (1985), Drew Stafford (1985), Cory Schneider (1986), and Keith Kinkaid (1989). All remaining members of the Devils were born between the year 1990 and 1999. 

Tweet from @NJDevils: If you're lost, you can look, and you will find us [on @MSGNetworks]Time after time#TORvsNJD starts now.

4. Blake Coleman woke up the Prudential Center crowd at the 16:07 mark of the second period with the Devils first goal of the period. Prior to Coleman, the Leafs had taken a 3-0 lead on New Jersey after the first period. Coleman's goal cut the Leafs lead to 3-1. 

Tweet from @NJDevils: @BColes25 gets the #NJDevils on board with this like, totally gnarly goal!

Coleman was the beneficiary of a rebound in the blue paint and with his back to the net, tapped the puck behind Toronto netminder Michael Hutchinson. Andy Greene took the original shot from the point and was credited with the primary assist, while Miles Wood was credited with the secondary assist. 

With his 14th goal of the season, Coleman sets a new career season-high for goals, with just under half the season remaining. Last season, Coleman registered 13 goals in 79 games. He is also three points away from tying his season-high points total (25). 

5. For veteran Greene, his assist was his 11th of the season. For the first time since the 2014-15 NHL season, Greene has surpassed 10 assists in a season. In the 2014-15 season Greene finished with 19 assists in 82 games. 

6. It was only 26 seconds after the Coleman goal that Brian Boyle would stun the Toronto Maple Leafs. He scored against his former team at 16:33 to cut Toronto's lead to 3-2. 

Tweet from @NJDevils: 🎶 Another one bites the dust 🎶

Off the rush, Blake Pietila set up Boyle with a drop pass that Boyle fired from the top of the left to surprise Hutchinson with a wrist shot. In a 26 second span, the New Jersey went from trailing the Leafs 3-0 to 3-2. Pietila was the lone assist on Boyle's 12th goal of the season. 

The assist was Pietila's first point since March 28th 2017. (Credit: Craig Seiden, NJ Devils Statistician)

7. The two goals scored 26 seconds apart were the two fastest goals scored by New Jersey since 2016 when Lee Stepniak and Reid Boucher scored 19 seconds apart against Calgary on January 19, 2016. (Credit: MSG Networks)

8. New Jersey was once again wearing their Heritage jersey's that celebrate the franchise's past with their original white, red and green color scheme. It's the second of four times this season the club will be wearing their throwback jerseys. The Devils will wear them twice more, against the New York Rangers on Thursday, January 31 and the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday, March 1.

9. Travis Zajac had a very effective night in the faceoff circle. He finished the night dominant over the Leafs centermen with a 69% efficiency going 18 for 16 and had an even better 71 percent efficiency in the defensive zone, winning 12 of 17 faceoffs. 

10. The Devils will continue their homestand hosting the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday afternoon, before welcoming the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday night. 


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