Any delusions of the Maple Leafs cruising to a perfect 82-0 season were eliminated Wednesday night as the Devils handed them their first loss of the season by a score of 6-3. This was a rough game for the Leafs as the speed and relentlessness from the Devils forced them into a lot of critical mistakes.
Things started well enough with JVR slipping one between goalie Corey Schneider's pads while on the man advantage. The lead only lasted 30 seconds however, as Devils youngster Miles Wood got a piece of a laser point shot that found the top corner of net. Wood then capitalized on a sloppy giveaway by rookie D-man Calle Rosen to rush in alone and put the visitors in front. Dominic Moore evened the score later in the period when he deflected Zaitsev's shot past Schneider.
In the second, New Jersey took the lead again on a powerplay. Pavel Zacha found himself wide open in front of the net and buried it past Andersen. Then the wheels really fell off. With the Leafs on a 5 on 3, the Devils rushed up the ice off a blocked shot and Brian Gibbons (who?) popped in a rebound. The 3 on 5 goal left broadcasters combing through the archives to find out when the last such occurrence was (I was too lazy). After the Leafs failed to score on the extended 5 on 3, it appeared another comeback win just wasn't in them. If you believe in "turning points" that 5 on 3 would be exhibit A.
Blake Coleman stretched the Devils advantage to 3 early in the final frame. He swooped into the high slot after picking up another sloppy pass by the Leafs and snapped one past Andersen's glove hand. Auston Matthews offered the home crowd a glimmer of hope late in the period as he one-timed home Nylander's cross crease feed on the Leafs second 5 on 3 of the game. It proved to be too little/too late however as Pavel Zacha's insurance goal with a couple of minutes left put the Devils up 6-3 and that is how it finished.
- Goaltending is a huge factor in a league with so much parity and it certainly was in this game. Schneider stopped 47 pucks and Andersen looked shaky, deep in his net, not square to the shooter.....
- First game this year where the Leafs weren't the fastest team on the ice, Devils looked really quick and won the majority of the puck battles
- Another special teams contest- the first two periods saw a parade to the box for both teams, obviously this results in more goals-which is fun-but it is a different kind of hockey game....
- Not a horrible game for the buds, a few bounces and a few mental mistakes cost them. They still controlled play for stretches of the game and they ran into a hot goalie as well. Nothing to be gravely concerned about but they will have to be better going forward.
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