Devils score rarest of short-handed goals, win battle of unbeatens
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TORONTO — The Maple Leafs had a big shots advantage and even two more skaters on the key play. The Devils put up the only big numbers that mattered — on the scoreboard.
Brian Gibbons had a rare 3-on-5 goal, Miles Wood and Pavel Zacha each scored twice and unbeaten New Jersey beat Toronto 6-3 on Wednesday night to end the Maple Leafs’ perfect start.
The key moment came late in the period after the Devils took two minor penalties on one play. Rather than Toronto taking advantage, New Jersey killed off the penalties and scored short-handed to make it 4-2.
Jake Gardiner was unable to keep the puck in at the New Jersey blue line and two Devils broke in. William Nylander’s backcheck swept the puck off Adam Henrique’s stick, and the puck went off goalie Frederik Andersen to Gibbons in front.
“That’s a huge one,” Toronto’s James van Riemsdyk said.
Auston Matthews, with his third of the season, cut it to 5-3 with 6:26 remaining and the Maple Leafs on a two-man advantage. Van Riemsdyk and Dominic Moore also scored for Toronto. The Maple Leafs dropped to 3-1-0.
“We didn’t have any snap, we didn’t have any juice, we didn’t win any battles,” Toronto coach Mike Babcock said. “We talked quite a lot about this game coming up and how it was going to be. And that’s exactly what I expected. But I expected us to compete and that didn’t happen. Hockey’s fair. You get what you deserve. That’s what we deserved tonight. … I can’t remember the last time we played with that kind of effort.”
Van Riemsdyk opened the scoring on a power play at 8:33 of the first, stuffing the puck past Schneider. New Jersey answered 34 seconds later when Wood tipped in Steven Santini’s shot from the point. Wood scored again 1:38 later, taking advantage of a handling error by Calle Rosen before ripping a shot past Andersen.
Moore tied it with 6:27 to go, redirecting Nikita Zaitsev’s shot as New Jersey’s Marcus Johansson, serving Stefan Noesen’s instigating penalty, exited the penalty box.
New Jersey went ahead 3-2 at 9:58 of the second on the power play, with rookie Jesper Bratt finding Zacha left alone in front of goal to complete a tic-tac-toe passing sequence. Van Riemsdyk was in the box for slashing.
Toronto came into the contest having scored 19 goals through its first three games to start the season, the second-most in franchise history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The 1917-18 team scored 27.
The Devils have 16 goals in their three outings, one off the franchise record set in 1991-92.
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October 12, 2017
Sources:` New York Post
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