Skip to Main Content

Maple Leafs shut down Devils 3-1 @NHLdotcom
Jonas Gustavsson showed the Toronto Maple Leafs he's up to the task of stepping in for injured starter Jean-Sebastien Giguere.

The second-year goaltender was superb on Thursday night, stopping 29 shots as the Leafs beat New Jersey 3-1, their second win in three days after eight consecutive losses. With Giguere sidelined for at least another week due to a groin injury, the Leafs will be counting on Gustavsson to carry the load in goal.

He's already amped up for Saturday's visit to Montreal.

"It's awesome, you want to play those games when the crowd is going nuts and it's really loud," said Gustavsson. "Games with a big rival are always fun to play because you really want to win those games. That's a game I'm really looking forward to."

The Leafs would be happy to come out with the same result two nights from now after a solid effort against the struggling Devils.

"We lost quite a bit in a row and now we've won two," said Leafs forward Phil Kessel, who had one of Toronto's three goals. "Hopefully we can get a couple more."

Kessel, Mikhail Grabovski and Kris Versteeg scored for Toronto (7-8-3). Rookie Nazem Kadri added a pair of assists and looked comfortable on the top line with Kessel and Tyler Bozak.

"Right now I'm feeling good, I'm playing good, and our team is playing exceptionally well too," said Kadri.

Dainius Zubrus had the lone goal for the struggling Devils (5-12-2) -- who saw starting goaltender Martin Brodeur replaced by backup Johan Hedberg after two periods because he experienced a recurrence of an injury to his right elbow.

"(It was) more cautionary than anything to make sure he's fine," Devils coach John MacLean said. "We'll evaluate him tomorrow."

Nothing is going right for the Devils, who lost for the second time on a three-game trip that ends Saturday in St. Louis. The players held a lengthy closed-door meeting after the game.

"It's tough to win hockey games when you don't score goals," forward Adam Mair said. "We've been shut out now three times in are last six games and we only got one tonight, so we've got to find a way to generate more offence."

Grabovski's power-play goal 1:42 into the second period opened the scoring. Brodeur stopped Kessel's blast from the left wing with his pad, but left a long rebound that the Belarusian centre fired home from 20 feet for his fifth goal in six games.

"I've had a lot of chances against (Brodeur) and I didn't score," Grabovski said. "Right now I'm very happy."

Kessel made it 2-0 at 6:29 when he fired Kadri's pass behind Brodeur from the side of the goal.

The Devils cut the margin to 2-1 when Alexander Vasynov's shot went off his skate and through Gustavsson's legs at 10:14.

But Versteeg iced the game for Toronto with his third goal in two games -- all while manning the point on the power play. He hammered a nice pass from Kadri behind Hedberg with less than seven minutes to play.

Gustavsson did the rest.

"He played really well," coach Ron Wilson said. "Bad luck the way the puck deflected and trickled through his legs on the goal. He made a lot of saves and used his size well on shots that he could see."

Material from wire services and team media were used in this report

View More

The NHL has updated its Privacy Policy effective January 16, 2020. We encourage you to review it carefully.

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.