TORONTO -- A three-goal outburst in the first 10 minutes of the third period propelled the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 4-2 victory against the New Jersey Devils on Monday at Air Canada Centre.
Nazem Kadri and Clarke MacArthur each had a goal and an assist to pace Toronto (14-9-0).
MacArthur scored the eventual game-winning goal on the power play, shoveling the puck under Devils goaltender Johan Hedberg at 7:25 of the final period to give the Maple Leafs a 3-2 lead. It was his sixth goal of the season.
Fans had barely finished returning to their seats for the start of the third when Jay McClement tied the game at 2 just 39 seconds in. McClement had a clear path to the net and made a move to his backhand, chipping the puck between Hedberg's right pad and blocker after intercepting Patrik Elias' errant pass in the Devils' zone. It was McClement's third goal of the season; he now has four points in his past five games.
Phil Kessel capped the scoring barrage with his fifth goal of the season to put the Maple Leafs up 4-2 at 9:52, finishing off a 2-on-1 with James van Riemsdyk.
After MacArthur put the Leafs ahead, James Reimer made a sensational right pad save on Elias that left the Devils' all-time leading scorer shaking his head. Elias was set up on the edge of the crease by Travis Zajac, but Reimer denied him by getting his right pad on the shot.
When asked about the save, he refused to look at the stop as a play that spurred his team to continue their rally.
"I don't know if I had too much to do with it, the boys came out flying in the third," Reimer said. "We kind of talked about it in the second intermission, how we didn't probably have the best 40 minutes, but we can make for it in the third and we did."
In his second start since returning from a knee injury, Reimer looked more comfortable between the pipes than he did in his previous start against the New York Islanders.
He had to be alert throughout the game, contending with plenty of point shots through traffic as well as when his team struggled to get anything going in the second period.
"I think they did a good job of trying to get traffic, they were able to get some sticks on pucks," Reimer said. "They made it difficult, but I was able to kind of play my game and try and stay big and then our defense and our team defense did the rest."
Reimer now has an 8-3-0 record with a .923 save percentage and 2.43 goals-against average.
After two periods, the Devils (10-7-5) looked to be in good position to pull out of a recent rough patch in which they earned only one point in four games leading up to their first of three meetings with the Maple Leafs.
They had out-chanced Toronto, and out-shot the Leafs by a margin of 18 –10
Marek Zidlicky scored his second and third goals of the season just over five minutes apart to give the Devils a 2-1 heading into the second intermission. Both goals were set up by Ryan Carter.
The Devils defenseman evened the game at 5:43, zipping a screen shot from the left faceoff circle, far-side, behind Reimer. Zidlicky got the puck after Carter beat David Steckel cleanly on a draw in the Leafs' zone.
The pair would connect again on a give-and-go at 11:18.
Pouncing on a turnover at the Devils' blue line, Zidlicky skated in to Toronto's zone and drew Maple Leafs defenseman Cody Franson before dropping a pass to Carter. He in turn fed the puck back to Zidlicky for the go-ahead goal.
Prior to his second-period outburst, Zidlicky had only recorded one goal this season. His last multi-goal performance was Jan. 19, 2009 as a member of the Minnesota Wild.
"It's pretty tough when you score two goals and it doesn't help [the team] win." Zidlicky said. "We need to win some games, we need to score on the power play. We need to win some games -- it doesn't matter how."
With his team down a goal early in the second, Hedberg made a nice stick save on Kessel, who kept on a 2-on-1 with Tyler Bozak. It was one of only five saves he had to make in the period.
Hedberg has struggled in the starting role since Martin Brodeur was lost to injury on Feb. 23. Since then, Hedberg has gone 0-4-1 with an .849 save percentage and 3.62 GAA.
After the loss, Hedberg put the heat directly on himself and pulled no punches.
"Tonight we played well enough to win, we needed some saves – seriously," Hedberg said. "I have to take that upon me and I have to play better for us to get out of this. They found a way to come back, it hurts, I know I have to be better. When we need a save, I have to be there, especially when it is hard for us to get a win."
The Maple Leafs opened the scoring at 10:34 of the first period, generating offense by effectively using the cycle. From the boards, MacArthur spotted Kadri at the left faceoff circle. Kadri's centering attempt for linemate Leo Komoraov caught the heel of Hedberg's stick and trickled over the goal line. Kadri now has nine goals this season and he leads the Maple Leafs in scoring with 23 points.
"It was a great play by Clarke in the corner to cycle it right back up to me," Kadri said. "As soon as I came through the middle, I think both defensemen just peeled right over to me and I saw Leo wide open [at the ] back door. If [Hedberg] didn't touch [the puck], I think it was going to be a goal regardless because [Komarov] was pretty open. …Our team is pretty good this year, and you've gotta be good to be lucky."
New Jersey went 0-for-4 with the man-advantage.