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Kadri, Maple Leafs defeat Devils in shootout

by Mike Brophy

TORONTO -- Nazem Kadri's goal in the shootout gave the Toronto Maple Leafs a 3-2 win against the New Jersey Devils at Air Canada Centre on Tuesday.

Toronto's Tyler Bozak and New Jersey's Mike Cammalleri each scored in the shootout.

The Maple Leafs (10-13-5) have won two in a row. It was the second loss in three games for the Devils (14-10-4).

Kadri was Toronto's fifth shooter and said he learned from watching the four Maple Leafs who went ahead of him.

"From what I saw, their goalie was coming out pretty far, so I tried to slow it down and make a few moves," Kadri said. "Luckily, it worked."

Kadri struggled to find the net early in the season, scoring one goal in his first 19 games, but he was praised for his hard work by coach Mike Babcock, who was convinced if the center continued to put forth the same effort he would eventually be rewarded.

Kadri has four goals in his past eight games, including two in a 4-1 win against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday.

Babcock didn't feel Kadri had his strongest game Tuesday, but he was pleased when he came through with the shootout winner.

"I thought he played real well when he wasn't scoring and I didn't think he was as good as he normally is tonight, to be honest," Babcock said. "He made a big-time move and he scored. He's a good player every night, but some nights you're a little more special than others."

Kadri's teammates are not surprised that he has rediscovered his scoring touch.

"It's funny how it goes in ebbs and flows sometimes," left wing James van Riemsdyk said. "When you go a few games without scoring, then the net seems to be a little bit smaller. When the confidence comes, it seems like you are shooting into a soccer net. Nazem is a highly skilled player who can make a lot of things happen, so when he's not scoring, you're not too worried. At the end of the year, he's going to have his numbers."

New Jersey took the lead at 1:24 of the first period when former Toronto right wing Lee Stempniak scored on the power play. With Maple Leafs defenseman Roman Polak off for cross-checking, Stempniak deflected defenseman John Moore's slap shot from the left point past goalie Garret Sparks for his seventh goal.

Toronto nearly tied it at 6:35 of the first when defenseman Matt Hunwick's slap shot from 10 feet inside the blue line cleanly beat New Jersey goalie Cory Schneider, but it hit the post.

The Maple Leafs did draw even at 14:13, thanks to a fortuitous bounce. PA Parenteau's dump-in from just outside the blue line landed 10 feet in front of Schneider and bounced in over his left shoulder. It was Parenteau's eighth goal.

"I was just trying to get the puck past their D," Parenteau said after the first period. "That was our game plan tonight, to get their defense to turn."

The Maple Leafs took a 2-1 lead at 2:12 of the second period with a power-play goal. With Devils defenseman Jon Merrill off for tripping, Toronto captain Dion Phaneuf took a slap shot from the point that van Riemsdyk tipped past Schneider for his eight goal.

Phaneuf was playing in his 400th game for the Maple Leafs.

The Devils tied it 2-2 at 13:20 when Kyle Palmieri, playing the left point on the power play, took a slap shot past a screened Sparks for his 12th goal of the season and fifth in his past six games.

Devils center Adam Henrique left the game in the middle of the second period with a lower-body injury. New Jersey has been without center Travis Zajac (upper body) the past three games.

"We love those guys, but we're going to have to deal with being without them," Cammalleri said.

Cammalleri was impressed with the Maple Leafs' effort under Babcock, who spent the past 10 seasons with the Detroit Red Wings.

"Tonight, we saw a lot of the old Detroit style out there," Cammalleri said. "They were flooding zones and playing a real up-tempo game. We found ourselves chasing the game a lot, and that's not what you want to be doing."

Sparks made 25 saves through overtime to earn his third NHL win. Schneider had 35 saves.

The game was the first between Toronto and New Jersey since Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello left the Devils on July 23 after 28 years as their GM.

"Lou does a lot for us, so it's nice to win here today," Babcock said.

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