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Leafs outlast Devils in shootout

The SportsXchange

TORONTO -- Toronto Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle obviously was happy that his team eked out a 2-1 shootout win over the New Jersey Devils on Friday.

But he was just as happy with the way his team played to earn six power-play chances in the game, showing him that the team is starting to play the game better in even-handed situations.

"We drew six power plays so we were doing things right as far as getting the puck into the zone," Carlyle said. "We haven't done that in a while. That's a starting point for our team. We know our special teams have been good and our goaltending has been pretty good, but our five-on-five play needed to improve."

The Maple Leafs (11-5-0) scored on only one of those power plays when right winger Phil Kessel got the first goal of the game in the third period.

The Devils (4-7-5) tied the game on a power play by right winger Michael Ryder with a fortunate bounce with fewer than five minutes left in regulation time.

But Toronto left winger James van Riemsdyk, who has been pressed into duty as a center because of injuries, notched the only goal of the shootout.

"I'm disappointed we didn't capitalize on our chances," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "We got a bounce there at the end to get a point. We had enough chances to win the game. We didn't finish enough."

The Devils have not won in four shootouts this season.

"It's tough," Ryder said. "We work on it in practice and we have guys that can score in shootouts so it's tough to lose those games. But on the other side, we were in those games and gave ourselves a chance."

Toronto goaltender Jonathan Bernier stopped 34 of 35 shots and handled three more attempts in the shootout for the win. New Jersey goaltender Cory Schneider made a save late in the overtime when the Leafs had a 3-on-1 break. He stopped 27 of 28 shots but took the hard-luck loss.

New Jersey (4-7-5) did not have a power play until 1:47 of the third period when Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf was called for hooking. But the Leafs were able to kill the penalty.

The Leafs finally snapped the deadlock on a power play when Kessel broke between two Devils to score from close range. Kessel's 10th goal of the season came at 8:12 after defenseman Andy Greene was called for hooking left winger Mason Raymond. Defenseman Cody Franson picked up an assist on the goal.

But the Devils took advantage of their own power play when Ryder scored his fifth goal of the season at 15:15 with 11 seconds left in Kessel's slashing penalty. The puck trickled past Bernier, who was trying for his second shutout of the season.

Bernier was at a loss to explain what happened although he seemed to be trying to clear the puck into the corner. "I didn't want to get a shutout, I guess, and practice my shootouts," he said. "If you asked me to do it again, I probably wouldn't be able to do it. But we showed a lot of character and came back and won that game."

"I was just trying to throw it to Adam (Henrique) there going to the net trying to create something," Ryder said. "And it just managed to trickle in. I don't know how it got in there in there."

"They're a good team," Bernier said. "They're a tough team for a goalie because they keep it simple but at the same time they shoot it from the point and get a lot of tips. I thought we did a great job of blocking a lot of shots."

Devils center Stephen Gionta was helped off the ice with 6:44 to play in the second period after going skates-first into the end boards when hit by Phaneuf. Gionta returned for the third period.

After an uneventful first two periods ended without a goal, the Devils, who were playing their second game in two nights, had a 22-15 advantage in shots over the Leafs, who were playing their first game since last Saturday's 4-0 loss in Vancouver.

The Maple Leafs had a two-man advantage for 44 seconds in the first period but could not capitalize on the opportunity. It came during a run of more than five minutes with a power play after right winger Mattias Tedenby was given a double minor for high-sticking at 6:36 and defenseman Peter Harrold was sent off for tripping at 9:52.

The Leafs did not take a penalty in the first period, but despite the extended power play, had only an 8-7 advantage in shots on goal entering the first intermission.

NOTES: Former Devils LW Brendan Shanahan and D Scott Niedermayer were among the Hockey Hall of Fame inductees honored before the game. ... Also honored as Hall of Fame inductees were D Chris Chelios, D Geraldine Heaney, who played for the Canadian women's national team, and the late Fred Shero, who coached the Philadelphia Flyers to two Stanley Cup championships. ... Devils D Eric Gelinas (left foot) was on crutches after stopping a shot in Thursday's win at Philadelphia, but X-rays were negative and he played Friday. ... Leafs RW David Clarkson, formerly with the Devils, played his first game against his former team. ... Leafs D Mark Fraser played his first game on Friday since injuring a knee in the second game of the season. ... The Maple Leafs visit the Boston Bruins on Saturday. The Devils will play their third game in four days when they are home Sunday to the Nashville Predators.
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