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Maple Leafs end four-game losing streak

The SportsXchange

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs were breathing a little easier Sunday after their 3-2 shootout victory over the New Jersey Devils snapped a four-game losing streak.

"Well, we can breathe, there's been doing a lot of gasping going on," Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. "Even in this game there was a lot of gasping going on -- that's how tight it was."

Left winger James van Riemsdyk scored the only goal in the shootout to clinch the victory after he had scored the Maple Leafs' second goal in regulation.

The shootout was required after the teams skated through a goalless third period and overtime. The loss not only ended the Devils two-game string of wins but made them winless in seven shootouts this season.

"In the second period we took some penalties [four minors], that's the only mistake we made," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "It took us out of our rhythm a little bit. But other than that, I couldn't have drawn it up much better, how we played and the effort we got."

Center Tyler Bozak also scored in regulation for the Maple Leafs (22-20-5) and right winger Phil Kessel added two assists.

Center Adam Henrique and left winger Ryane Clowe scored for the Devils (19-18-10).

Toronto goalie Jonathan Bernier made 36 stops in regulation and overtime combined. Devils goaltender Cory Schneider stopped 23 shots.

"We needed this bad," Bernier said. "We found a way. It feels good for our confidence."

"I think we did a lot of good things tonight," Henrique said. "We had a lot of chances and we had a lot of shots on net. So we've just got to continue doing that."

The Devils took advantage of a holding penalty called against Toronto left winger Nikolai Kulemin early in the second period to tie the game at 1. Henrique took a cross-ice pass from Clowe to score his 11th goal of the season at 1:39 on a wrist shot from the dot of the right faceoff circle.

"I thought we came out and showed good energy and played the way we wanted to play," Henrique said.

The Maple Leafs regained the lead 13 seconds after Devils center Reid Boucher was penalized for high-sticking. Van Riemsdyk scored his 17th goal of the season at 5:56 on the rebound of defenseman Cody Franson's shot from the right point.

The Devils tied the game at 6:23 on Clowe's first goal of the season. Clowe picked up a long pass from defenseman Marek Zidlicky at the Toronto blue line, skated in alone and flipped a backhand shot past Bernier.

Clowe said someone grabbed the puck for him after his first goal with the Devils.

"Yeah, right away," he said. "It took me until January to get it."

Bozak put the puck in the net for the Maple Leafs at 10:03 of the second on a power play, but the goal was disallowed because of incidental contact on the goaltender.

"We had 15 scoring chances up until that point," Carlyle said. "In the next 12 minutes, we didn't get any."

The Maple Leafs did not agree with the call.

"In that situation specifically, when you review it on replay, it's hard to take the side of the official," Carlyle said. "I don't know any other way to put it politely. Some of the luck we had at the beginning of the year has now gone the other way."

The Maple Leafs scored the only goal of the first period. Bozak snapped home his seventh goal of the season at 15:53 after Schneider stopped a shot from Kessel.

"There's lots more work to do this week, but it feels good to get that win because we felt the effort was there last game (a 3-2 loss to the Washington Capitals on Thursday) but we just didn't get the results," Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf said.

NOTES: Devils C Patrik Elias (total body soreness), C Jacob Josefson (virus), RW Damien Brunner (knee) and D Peter Harrold (foot fracture) were out of Sunday's game. Harrold, who was injured on Dec. 7, has resumed skating. ... Maple Leafs C Dave Bolland (severed left ankle tendon) has been fitted with a special skate boot and is expected to begin skating with the team by Thursday. ... Several Maple Leafs players, including C Tyler Bozak, G James Reimer and D Tim Gleason, did not participate in the Sunday morning skate because they were suffering from flu-like symptoms. Bozak and Gleason both started against the Devils but Reimer did not. ... Sunday's game was the opener of a four-game trip for the Devils that takes them next to Montreal to play the Canadiens on Tuesday.
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