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Maple Leafs 2, Devils 1

The SportsXchange

NEWARK, N.J. -- Ilya Kovalchuk may not come back soon enough to save the Devils.

The Devils have played their way out of the playoff picture ever since Kovalchuk injured his shoulder in March and Leo Komarov and Tyler Bozak added to New Jersey's misery with a goal apiece in Toronto's 2-1 victory on Saturday night before a sellout crowd of 17,625 at Prudential Center.

James Reimer came up with 27 saves to hold off the Devils (15-14-9), who are stuck at 39 points and stand 0-3-3 since Kovalchuk was sidelined. With 10 games left in the season, the 2012 Stanley Cup runner-up Devils are in danger of not making the playoffs.

Toronto (21-13-4) took a 2-0 lead on Bozak's goal 8:02 into the third. Bozak broke in on net after receiving a pass from Phil Kessel. Bozak's shot hit off Martin Brodeur and carried over the goalie and into the net.

David Clarkson broke a scoring drought of 123-plus minutes for the Devils when he scored his 13th goal, at 11:37. Marek Zidlicky centered the puck on a break and Clarkson beat Reimer with a shot through the five hole to make it 2-1.

For the second straight home game, the Devils found themselves in an early hole. On the second shot of the game, at the 3:49 mark, Komarov redirected Mark Fraser's slap shot from just inside the blue line past Brodeur for a 1-0 lead. On Monday in a 3-1 loss at home, the Islanders scored 52 seconds into the game and again at 7:14.

Cody Franson had sent the puck left, across the blue line, to Fraser, who unloaded his shot. Komarov got his stick on the puck and it sailed past Brodeur, who was moving to cover the near post.

The Maple Leafs nearly made it 2-0 in the final seconds of the first period when Clarke MacArthur fired a shot that hit off the far post. Brodeur managed to cover it up as the period ended.

The Devils held a 14-8 shot advantage in the first period, which didn't include an attempt by Mark Fayne that hit off the right post.

The Maple Leafs have killed penalties at 91.6 percent rate over their previous 26 games and rank No. 4 overall in that category. The Leafs continued to be stingy in the first, blanking the Devils during four power plays, including a two-man advantage for a span of 1:04.

The Maple Leafs tightened their defense in the second period and held a 5-4 edge in shots on the Devils, who were on their heels for the final two minutes when Toronto closed out the period on a power play.

NOTES: Devils coach Pete DeBoer, seeking a scoring spark for his team, placed newly acquired forward Steve Sullivan on the club's top line. Sullivan (five goals, seven assists), brought in from Phoenix on Wednesday, was teamed up with Patrick Elias and Andrei Loktionov. ... Sullivan is the 24th Devil to leave and then return to play for New Jersey. Sullivan last wore a Devils jersey on Feb. 20, 1997, at Florida. ... The Devils came into the game with a five-game winless streak, including its first shutout loss, 1-0 to the Bruins on Thursday. ... Toronto was without Joffrey Lupul, who might have suffered a concussion after taking a jarring hit to the head in the Maple Leafs' 5-3 loss to the Flyers on Thursday. Lupul had been one of Toronto's hottest players with 14 points (eight goals, six assists) since returning from a 25-game absence because of a broken arm. With Lupul in the lineup, the Leafs were 5-1-3; without him, they were 13-11-1. ... Clarke MacArthur, who missed the last four games with an upper-body injury, took Lupul's spot on the line with Nazem Kadri and Nikolai Kulemin. ... The Devils came in 0-2-3 since losing Ilya Kovalchuk to a shoulder injury. ... Adam Larsson, Anton Volchenkov, Krystofer Barch, Jacob Josefson and Tom Kostopoulos were scratched for the Devils. ... Lupul, Ryan O'Byrne, Frazer McLaren, Matt Frattin and Michael Kostka were scratched for Toronto. ... Brodeur's son, Jeremy, also a goalie, was drafted by the Oshawa Generals in the eighth round of the OHL Priority Draft. DeBoer, the Devils' coach, is a minority owner of the club.
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