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Leafs head into break on a high note

by Adam Proteau / Toronto Maple Leafs

The Maple Leafs continued their winning ways Tuesday – and headed into an extended break on a high note – with a 3-2 shootout win over the visiting New Jersey Devils. And the puck luck that eluded the Buds early in the season helped them out at Air Canada Centre, with winger P-A Parenteau scoring on star Devils netminder Cory Schneider on a shot from outside New Jersey’s blueline.

That type of play hurt Toronto early this year, but sometimes the hockey gods atone for such misfortune, and the Leafs were happy to be on the right end of that equation this time.

“It was a lucky bounce, obviously,” said Parenteau, who now has eight goals this season. “It was nice to get that. We had one against us this year, and it cost us in a game against New York. It happens in games sometimes, the ice is so bad that it’s never a bad play to throw it on the net. But I wasn’t trying to score, I was trying to get it behind their D and get a forecheck going.”

Parenteau was modest, but did note that he’s seen those odd bounces turn into goals numerous times in the NHL this season. And teammate James van Riemsdyk – who chipped in his eighth goal of the year in the victory – said those kind of goals aren’t necessarily as flukey as you might think.

“He made a smart play,” van Riemsdyk said of Parenteau. “Pucks seemed to be bouncing around there, even in the warmup, so I’m sure he took notice of that. It looks lucky, but it’s a lot less lucky than it is, because he has to put the puck in that position.”

The Devils began the game strongly, but after New Jersey scored the first goal of the night, Toronto answered back by outshooting the visitors 17-7 in the period and taking a 2-1 lead on goals. The game was dominated by special teams play, with the two sides combining for 10 power plays (including five for Toronto), but Toronto outshot New Jersey 37-27 on the night, and the Buds dominated the faceoff circle (winning 41 of 70 draws).

All in all, there was more than enough that worked for Toronto to please head coach Mike Babcock.

“When you’re not getting out there and you’re not getting rhythm, it’s harder for you,” Babcock said. “I thought we did what we could to get in rhythm, but in the end it was one of those games. You’ve got to find ways to win. There’s lots of ugly hockey nights in the National League. You’ve got to find ways to win the game.”

The Leafs now have a rare seven-day break before their next game when they host Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning at the ACC Dec. 15. Buds players were happy to head into the break riding a two-game win streak.

“With this many days off in a row, you want to go in on a winning note,” van Riemsdyk said. “It’s nice for us to get the win, we’ll take the two points and look to use this week to get better so next Tuesday we’re raring to go.”

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