Ilya Kovalchuk had the other goal for the Devils (13-12-1), who got 31 saves from Martin Brodeur. Phil Kessel
, with his 17th of the season, and Matt Frattin
replied for Toronto (15-10-3). James Reimer
made 23 saves in taking the loss.
Clarkson scored the winner off the rush after taking a feed from Dainius Zubrus in the slot. His quick shot beat Reimer through his pads.
Kovalchuk and Clarkson scored power-play goals in the first period as New Jersey jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead.
Kovalchuck wired a one-time shot off the post and in past Reimer at 5:03. Clarkson then took advantage of some suspect defensive zone coverage by the Maple Leafs to beat a helpless Reimer at 8:59.
Kessel got the Leafs back in it at 11:29 of the second. Joffrey Lupul
threw a puck in front that bounced off Kessel's skate and past Brodeur.
The goal moved Kessel into a first place tie with Chicago's Jonathan Toews atop the NHL goal-scoring standings.
Frattin tied it at 1:56 of the third on a great individual effort. After picking up the puck near the left-wing boards, Frattin held off Adam Larsson before beating Brodeur to his left.
The Leafs had a chance to win in late in regulation on the power play as New Jersey's Patrik Elias took an undisciplined slashing penalty with 2:16 left in regulation, but Toronto failed to capitalize as the Devils hung on to force overtime. Notes:
The Leafs announced forward Clarke MacArthur
is day-to-day with an upper body injury. ... Attendance at Air Canada Centre was 19,514. ... New Jersey finished 2-for-4 on the power play, while Toronto wound up 0-for-2.