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Tavares gets 300th NHL goal, Maple Leafs hold off Devils

Scores twice for Toronto, which had lost three of its past four

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

Tavares' 300th NHL goal

TOR@NJD: Tavares buries rebound for 300th goal

John Tavares collects a rebound in front and backhands the puck into an open net for his 300th career goal

  • 00:54 •

NEWARK, N.J. -- John Tavares scored his 300th NHL goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs in a 4-2 win against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Thursday.

Tavares, who had two goals and an assist, reached the milestone when he gathered a rebound and scored into an open net with a backhand to make it 2-0 at 7:21 of the first period. He extended the lead to 3-0 at 19:53 on a one-timer from the right circle off a pass from Morgan Rielly.

"It's always more satisfying when [a milestone] contributes to a big win, especially bouncing back after the other night (4-0 loss to the Nashville Predators on Monday)," Tavares said. "Credit goes to a lot of guys I've played with over my career, because obviously that was a big part of helping me be successful. I'm just trying to be consistent for as long as I've been in the League."

 

[WATCH: All Maple Leafs vs. Devils highlights]

 

Mitchell Marner had a goal and an assist, Ron Hainsey had two assists, and Michael Hutchinson made 27 saves for Toronto (28-13-2), which went 3-0-0 against the Devils this season.

"Tavares and Marner are awesome to play with," said Maple Leafs forward Zach Hyman, who returned after missing eight games with a sprained ankle. "I just try and get them the puck as much as I can. [Tavares] is tenacious on it and you see how strong he is, how he gets the puck back all the time. He's one of the best finishers around the net in the League."

Blake Coleman and Brian Boyle scored, and Keith Kinkaid made 39 saves for New Jersey (16-20-7), which has lost three in a row.

"[Toronto] is a good team. Some of their strengths gave us some issues, and it's something we continually work on with our guys," Devils coach John Hynes said. "We need to be better in the hardness and intensity level around our net. That's where they do a good job. That's where Tampa Bay [Lightning] does a good job. Those teams are highly skilled and talented." 

Coleman scored with a backhand off a rebound in front to make it 3-1 at 16:07 of the second period, and Boyle scored 26 seconds later on a rush off a turnover by Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner to cut it to 3-2.

Video: TOR@NJD: Coleman, Boyle find twine 26 seconds apart

"When we play with structure, we play well and put teams on their heels," Devils captain Andy Greene said. "When we don't, we look like chickens with our heads cut off. We kind of run around and try to cover for other mistakes. You just have to trust yourself and trust the other guys out there."

Marner scored into an empty net to make it 4-2 at 19:38 of the third period.

Connor Brown gave the Maple Leafs a 1-0 lead at 4:30 of the first period with a slap shot from the left point during a 4-on-4.

 

They said it

"I don't really think about [the scoring pace] I'm on (29 goals in 43 games). I just try and go out there and be as prepared and consistent as I can be. I try to be hard to defend and find different ways to produce in certain situations, like around the net, off the cycle, off the rush, and the power play. I'm playing with some pretty good players throughout the lineup, so I'm just trying to be ready for those opportunities." -- Maple Leafs center John Tavares

Video: TOR@NJD: Tavares hammers home Rielly's feed

 

"We need to start stringing together wins and playing complete games and giving ourselves a shot. We dug ourselves a bit of hole, but it was good to see we stuck with our game. We tightened up some things that needed to be tightened and battled hard, and we had a chance to tie it up in the third and just could not find a way." -- Devils right wing Kyle Palmieri

 

Need to know

Tavares, who has 671 points (301 goals, 370 assists) in 712 games, is the first player from the 2009 NHL Draft to score 300 goals and is third in the NHL since he entered the League in 2009-10, behind Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals (420) and Steven Stamkos of the Lightning (348). ... Hyman had an assist and was plus-4 in 16:44 of ice time. ... The Devils recalled forward Kevin Rooney from Binghamton of the American Hockey League and placed goalie Mackenzie Blackwood on injured reserve, retroactive to Jan. 4. Rooney had two shots and was plus-1 in 8:17 of ice time.

 

What's next

Maple Leafs: Host the Boston Bruins on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, CBC, SN1, CITY, NESN, NHL.TV)

Devils: Host the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday (1 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, MSG+, NBCSP, NHL.TV)

Video: Tavares hits milestone as Leafs down Devils, 4-2

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