Toronto (42-27-3) at New Jersey (45-20-5)

  • Game info: 7:30 pm EST Tue Apr 1, 2003
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils are making a late run for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. But winning the Atlantic Division is still their top priority.

The Atlantic Division-leading Devils look to stretch their unbeaten streak to eight games when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs at Continental Airlines Arena.

Brodeur became the first goalie in NHL history to record 40 victories in four different seasons in Sunday’s 6-0 rout of the New York Islanders. The Devils, who improved to 5-0-2 during the streak, pulled to within four points of the Ottawa Senators for the top seed in the East. Ottawa hosts Boston on Tuesday.

Brodeur needed to make just 19 saves Sunday for his league-high ninth shutout, surpassing Jacques Plante and Terry Sawchuk, both of whom had three 40-win seasons.

“Consistency is something that when I started my career I wanted to do,” said Brodeur, who is also the only goalie with eight consecutive 30-win seasons. “I wanted to be able to play a lot and be consistent every year.

“Winning so many games every year shows I was able to do that. I want to keep going and raise that bar for other goalies coming up.”

Patrik Elias scored four goals and set up another, while Scott Gomez tied a team record with five assists for the Devils, who are just two points ahead of second-place Philadelphia in the Atlantic Division race.

“The last 10 or 15 games, I have been feeling pretty good out there,” said Elias, who has 10 of his 27 goals in the last 13 games. ”(Gomez) is playing better and we’re working strong as a line.”

The Maple Leafs were eliminated from contention for home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs after the Flyers, their likely first-round opponent, clinched the fourth seed with Monday’s 6-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Toronto has lost just once in its last five games (3-1-1), and is coming off Saturday’s 4-3 overtime victory over the Washington Capitals.

Mats Sundin scored at 2:56 of overtime as the Maple Leafs got the victory despite blowing a two-goal lead late in the third period.

“It’s tough to let it slip away when you are up 3-1,” Sundin said, “but we showed that we’re capable of winning in overtime.”

Toronto, which scratched six regulars because of injury, is fifth in the East, six points ahead of the sixth-place Capitals.

STANDINGS: Maple Leafs - 94 points, 2nd place, 13 PB, Northeast Division. Devils - 103 points, 1st place, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Maple Leafs - Sundin, 36 goals; Alexander Mogilny, 46 assists and 79 points; Wade Belak, 194 PIM. Devils - Elias, 27 goals and 56 points; Gomez, 41 assists; Turner Stevenson, 113 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 30): Maple Leafs - Power play: 17.7 percent (56 for 322), 11th in NHL. Penalty killing: 87.2 percent (361 for 414), 3rd. Devils - Power play: 11.8 percent (34 for 287), 30th. Penalty killing: 88.0 percent (221 for 251), 1st.

GOALTENDERS: Maple Leafs - Ed Belfour (35-20-5, 7 SO, 2.29 GAA); Trevor Kidd (6-9-2, 3.10). Devils - Brodeur (40-22-8, 9, 2.03); Corey Schwab (5-3-0, 1, 1.42).

SEASON SERIES: Maple Leafs, 2-1.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 4; Maple Leafs, 2-1. At Toronto, Travis Green scored the go-ahead goal in the third period, and Belfour made a season-high 50 saves to lead the Leafs. Jamie Langenbrunner scored for the Devils and Brodeur made 17 saves.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Maple Leafs - 19-15-3-3 on the road; Devils - 25-11-2-1 at home.

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