Nylander scores late in OT, Maple Leafs beat Devils 1-0
TORONTO (AP) Toronto coach Mike Babcock had a simple message for William Nylander after he ended a goal slump with the winner.
Nylander struck with 2.2 seconds to play in overtime and Frederik Andersen made 42 saves to help the Maple Leafs beat the New Jersey Devils 1-0 on Thursday night for their fifth straight victory.
”I told him to go thank Freddie because he’s never scored,” Babcock said. ”(Nylander) needed to score a goal, right? He hasn’t scored in a while.”
Moments before Nylander scored, Andersen made one of his biggest saves of the night to bail out the 21-year-old Swede after a giveaway.
”He missed his guy and his guy was in home free,” Babcock said. ”Those things happen, that’s why you pay the goalie and it was a big save.”
Nylander went 11 games between goals before scoring his fourth of the season and first since Oct. 21. He was fortunate to be on the ice when he scored after taking a longer than average shift.
”I was pretty tired,” Nylander said. ”We’d gone back and forth a few times. Low energy. I couldn’t go back the other way after that.”
Babcock said he could sense Nylander’s goal drought was starting to weigh on him.
”When you haven’t scored in a while as a young guy you start thinking too much instead of playing and working,” Babcock said.
”They want to score every night and if you’re a point-getter you think you should be doing that every night.”
Nylander, who has 14 points in 20 games, has tried to stay optimistic despite his slump over the past three weeks and Corey Schneider stopping him three times earlier in the game.
”I had a couple chances in regulation too, a little rattling with them not going in,” Nylander said. ”(But) you just have to look at the fact you’re creating chances most of the nights, that’s what’s most important.”
Schneider stopped 24 shots for the Devils.
”I thought it was a real good game by both teams,” Devils coach John Hynes. ”From our perpesctive, if we play like this every night I think we’ll be OK. Pretty complete game by us.”
NOTES: Leafs center Auston Matthews was on the ice for the optional morning skate but sat out his fourth straight game with an upper-body injury. Forward Nikita Soshnikov made his season debut for Toronto after being recalled from the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League. … Devils center Travis Zajac made his season debut after recovering from surgery to repair a torn left pectoral muscle.
Devils: At Winnipeg on Saturday.
Maple Leafs: At Montreal on Saturday night.
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