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Devils 7, Maple Leafs 6, SO @NHLdotcom

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -Brian Gionta and John Madden helped Martin Brodeur get over quite possibly the worst 20 minutes of his career with New Jersey.

Brodeur atoned for Toronto's five-goal second period by stopping three shots in a shootout and the Devils rallied from a three-goal deficit in the third period to beat the Maple Leafs 7-6 on Thursday night.

"It was a tough game for me but we pulled it out of our hat," Brodeur said. "Give a lot of credit to the guys for bouncing back. When your goalie doesn't make the saves, it's hard to get up and get going. They proved they have a lot of character."

Gionta led the Devils' comeback by scoring three times in the third period to make it 6-6, the tying goal coming with 37 seconds to play. He also scored in the shootout which the Devils won 2-1 in four rounds.

"Obviously we struggled the first two periods." Gionta said after his first career hat trick. "We turned it on in the third and battled back for two points. It's gratifying when you do it."

Madden scored twice in regulation and got the game-winner in the shootout. Sergei Brylin got the other goal for New Jersey.

"We felt they were giving us chances to stay in the game," Madden said. "We missed some glorious opportunities in the second. We just wanted to go out, get the next goal and go from there."

Matt Stajan scored twice and Jeff O'Neill, Chad Kilger, Darcy Tucker and Alexei Ponikarovsky each had one goal for Toronto, which led 6-3 entering the third period.

"It's definitely frustrating," Toronto captain Mats Sundin said. "We played two good periods, and to let them back when you are up 6-3 is a heartbreaker. It feels like a loss even though we got a point."

Stajan gave the Maple Leafs a 1-0 lead in the shootout, then Brodeur stopped Sundin, Tucker and Ponikarovsky.

Gionta scored on the Devils' second shot against Jean-Sebastien Aubin and Madden won it on the fourth with a goal that had to be reviewed, but it was clearly in.

"From the sound I knew it was in," Aubin said.

Gionta, who set a team-record with 48 goals last season and got a $12 million contract as reward, started the comeback with two power-play goals. His first came on a deflection of a shot by Brian Rafalski at 6:29. The second was from in close with 5:41 left in regulation and the third came with Brodeur off for an extra skater. Scott Gomez had assists on the last two.

The Maple Leafs' five-goal second period was started by two goals by Stajan. Kilger, Tucker and Ponikarovsky also scored in the opening 14:48 as New Jersey fans made derisive cheers every time Brodeur touched the puck.

The five goals allowed in the period matched Brodeur's career worst, which came on Nov. 14, 1998 in a third-period onslaught by the Flyers in Philadelphia. It also tied the Devils record for most allowed in a period at home.

Brodeur, who moved into third place past Terry Sawchuk with his 448th win, was a victim of some bad play on his part, a couple of bad bounces and two great shots.

Stajan got Toronto going by banking in a shot off a prone Brodeur from almost behind the goal line at 1:13 for a 2-1 lead.

After Madden tied with his second of the game at 3:30, Stajan needed only 20 seconds to have his slapshot deflect off a stick past Brodeur.

Less than a minute later, Kilger came out from behind the net to tuck the rebound of a shot by Michael Peca under Brodeur for a 4-2 lead. Tucker pushed the lead to 5-3 when his shot from the faceoff circle deflected off Brylin's skate past Brodeur.

Ponikarovsky got the fifth goal with a bomb from between the circles at 14:38.

Notes: The Devils have asked D Scott Lachance to continue his tryout with Lowell of the AHL. RW Nathan Perrott, who also had a tryout, was released on Thursday. ... With D Pavel Kubina expected to be sidelined at least a month with a knee injury, Jay Harrison played defense for Toronto.

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