Jonas Gustavsson made 29 saves, and Mikhail Grabovski, Phil Kessel and Kris Versteeg scored in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 3-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night.
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Toronto improved to 7-8-2 with its second straight victory after an eight-game winless streak,
Dainius Zubrus scored for the struggling Devils (5-12-2).
Gustavsson filled in admirably for Jean-Sebastien Giguere, sidelined by a strained groin.
The mounting problems for New Jersey might have got even bigger. Already hampered by injuries, goalie Martin Brodeur was replaced by Johan Hedberg after two periods – although no reason for the change was provided. Brodeur watched the final 20 minutes from the end of the bench.
Versteeg beat Hedberg with less than 7 minutes to play to ice the victory. He one-timed a shot on the power play, giving Toronto six goals in its 11 opportunities with the man advantage.
A game between two of the lowest-scoring teams in the NHL delivered as expected – tight-checking hockey with little offensive flair.
The suddenly scorching Leafs’ power play also accounted for the game’s opening goal. Brodeur kicked out a big rebound that Grabovski hammered home at 1:42 of the second period. It was the fifth goal in six games for the Belarusian center.
Kessel made it 2-0 after being thwarted on a couple good opportunities earlier in the game. Standing alone at the side of the goal, he took a nice pass from Kadri and beat Brodeur at 6:29.
The Devils narrowed the lead before the end of the period with a goal Gustavsson could have stopped. Zubrus had Alexander Vasyunov’s shot go off his skate and through the Swedish goalie’s legs at 10:14.