TORONTO- Although the Leafs got on the board early, they could not beat Canada's gold-medal winning Martin Brodeur. Toronto scored the first goal just a minute and a half into the game but were shut out thereafter by New Jersey in Saturday's 3-1 setback to the Devils.
Leaf forward Alexander Mogilny went straight to the net twice in the first two minutes of play but was denied on both accounts by ex-teammate Martin Brodeur. Mogilny, who came to Toronto as a free agent from New Jersey last summer, was a dominant force the entire night.
Knowing Brodeur's tendencies, Mogilny was hoping that in continuing to rush the net he would be able to sneak one by his former teammate. But as much as Mogilny could read the pads of Brodeur, it seemed the goalie could read the rifling stick of Mogilny. Brodeur turned away six shots, the Leafs team high, from the sharp hands of Mogilny.
"We had our chances, plenty of chances, but the whole game the puck didn't seem to want to go across the goal line," Mogilny said of the Leafs bountiful scoring opportunities.
The Russian native couldn't explain Brodeur's magic in the crease.
"I don't know how he does it. He made me look like a rookie out there," Mogilny joked.
Despite the loss, the Leaf squad was valiant in its efforts and turned in a playoff-worthy game. They were quick on the transition catching the Devils out of position several times. Toronto dominated in both the first and second periods out-shooting the visitors 13-10 and 8-6 respectively.
| Former Devil, Alexander Mogilny kept Brodeur busy from start to finish. |
Devils head coach Kevin Constantine, who replaced Larry Robinson after a poor season start, felt goaltending was central to his team's win.
"I would say they [Toronto] played great, Marty played great and we played OK. I didn't think we played great as a team," Constantine said, "I think goaltending was the key."
The Devils have ended the Leafs playoff run at two rounds in back-to-back seasons. This year New Jersey is still fighting for a playoff spot.
Leaf captain Mats Sundin was hoping to prove something to his postseason rivals in this, their last regular season meeting. That is, prove that the Leafs were a better team than last season.
"I really think we played our best game in the last couple weeks. We had a really good effort from everybody," Sundin said.
Despite his team's loss, Sundin is confident of Toronto's performance if they were to once again meet the Devils in the playoffs.
"If we keep playing like tonight we'll win our games in the future," Sundin said.
That being said if Toronto does want to beat New Jersey in a possible playoff reunion, it will have to improve their power play productivity. The Leafs went 0-4 on Saturday with the Devils shorthanded.
That feat, however, means finding some empty net against Martin Brodeur. Tonight they couldn't figure out just how the devil that was to be done. Notes:
Brodeur, Scott Gomez and Mogilny were selected the three stars ... Barrasso left the game after the second period with a suspected injury ... Sundin scored his 37th goal in the first ... Gary Roberts said he would not make the upcoming trip to Detroit.