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Leafs Go The Distance For Win

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs


TORONTO --
P.A. Parenteau's shootout goal lifted the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night, giving coach Mike Babcock a reason to celebrate his 1,000th game.

James Reimer stopped Reid Boucher, Jacob Josefson and Lee Stempniak in the shootout. Peter Holland and Tyler Bozak missed for the Leafs.

David Schlemko's disputed third-period goal had seemed destined to give the Devils a 2-1 win.

But Bozak beat Keith Kinkaid with a snap shot from the slot with 2:06 remaining to tie the game. His 10th of the season snapped a 15-game goal drought that dates back to Dec. 27.

The Leafs challenged the Schlemko goal, a shot though traffic from inside the blueline at 6:27, arguing that Reimer was interfered with as Jordin Tootoo, tangled up with defenceman Morgan Rielly, cruised past the net. But the goal stood.

Babcock, whose record stands at 546-307-19-128 is the 25th NHL coach to reach the 1,000-game mark.

He was the subject of a first-period video tribute to the sounds of ``How You Like Me Now?'' by The Heavy. The 52-year-old Babcock, likely steaming that his team had just given up the first goal, raised his hand in a brief acknowledgment from behind the bench.

Josefson also scored for New Jersey (26-20-6).

Shawn Matthias scored for Toronto (19-22-9).

The Devils, who defeated the visiting Rangers 3-2 Tuesday, arrived having have won five of their last six games. Toronto, despite winning 4-3 in overtime Tuesday in Boston, were mired in a 2-7-2 run.

It was a night of milestones for the Leafs, who outshot New Jersey 39-34.

In addition to Babcock's 1,000th, captain Dion Phaneuf appeared in his 800th game, winger Joffrey Lupul his 700th and Nazem Kadri his 300th. And the Leafs used the occasion to mark the 40th anniversary of Darryl Sittler's 10-point night against the Boston Bruins.

Sittler said he congratulated Babcock on his big night before the game.

``I said 'I'm sorry to steal your thunder, it's your 1,000th game.' I said 'Just win it for us,'' Sittler told reporters between periods.

On a night long on statistics but short on excellence, Devils rookie forward Joseph Blandisi stood out. The 21-year-old from nearby Markham, Ont., playing in his 13th NHL game, buzzed round the ice and assisted on the winning goal for his fourth point in five games.

Kadri delivered several enthusiastic bodychecks. Leafs defenceman Roman Polak did his part, erasing Josefson at the blueline.

Toronto outshot New Jersey early but the Devils went ahead on the power play at 4:16 when Josefson's shot _ New Jersey's third shot of the night _ handcuffed Reimer. Matthias, parked in front of goal, tied it up at 8:34 redirecting a nifty feed from Bozak just three seconds after Travis Zajac stepped out of the penalty box.

A short-handed New Jersey goal midway through the second was called off due to offside after Stephen Gionta beat Reimer on a two-on-one break.

The crowd of 18,947 roared when Devils defenceman Eric Gelinas fanned on a shot at the blueline in spectacular fashion, toppling onto the ice like a tot new to skates as the puck sailed past him into the New Jersey end.

Josefson ripped a shot off the post during a Devils power play late in the second period.

Reimer made his eighth start in the past 10 games. He came into the game with a save percentage of .932, second only to Philadelphia's Michal Neuvirth (.933) among goalies with 20 games or more this season.

Devils backup Kinkaid started for Cory Schneider, who is nursing an undisclosed injury.

The Leafs spend the next two weeks on the road with games in Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Chicago before playing five of their next six at home, starting Feb. 18 against the Rangers.

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