NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — James Reimer gave Toronto a chance to win against the New Jersey Devils and Maple Leafs took advantage of it in the shootout with a somewhat unusual lineup.
Reimer made 43 saves and Tyler Bozak, Tim Connolly and Nazem Kadri scored shootout goals against Martin Brodeur in leading Toronto to a 4-3 victory Friday night.
“I thought the last 40 minutes we stepped up and played our game and played really hard,” Reimer said. “Kudos to them. When you have three goals on the New Jersey Devils and Marty Brodeur, and three in the shootout, you must have been doing something right.”
The Maple Leafs didn’t do everything right in winning for the fifth time (5-15-2) in 22 games. They blew a two-goal, third-period lead but rebounded in the shootout with coach Randy Carlyle’s surprising lineup.
Bozak and Kadri, who was recalled from the minors Thursday, each had only taken one shooout attempt this season. Connolly hadn’t taken any. They all came through with Bozak and Connolly beating Brodeur to the glove side and Kadri converting with a side to side move for a shot into an open lower corner of the net.
“Two of the three shooters went glove side and I noticed he was giving it (the glove side) to you and wanted you to shoot there,” said Kardi, who along with Bozak scored in regulation. “I just came in and faked the backhand up top over the glove and luckily he bit on it and I was able to slide it across.”
Brodeur was impressed with the move. He also was upset that he failed to stop Connolly after getting a good piece of his shot. The 39-year-old goaltender also said he was surprised by Carlyle’s choices for the shootout.
“I was expecting (Phil) Kessel,” Brodeur said. “I don’t look at who’s coming, and every time I popped my head up it wasn’t Kessel and that was weird. That’s what I was expecting more than anything, and (Mikhail) Grabovsky and some of the skilled players they do have. It worked for them.”
Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise scored against Reimer on the Devils’ first two shootout shots. Bozak and Connolly answered for Toronto. Reimer made a pad save on Patrik Elias, and Kadri got the winner with a spectacular side to side move against Brodeur.
Former Devil David Steckel scored for Toronto in regulation. Jacob Josefson, Parise and Adam Henrique countered for New Jersey, which had a season-high 46 shots while limiting Toronto to 17.
“It’s a big point,” Brodeur said after the Devils picked up their 90th point to retain a firm hold on sixth place in the Eastern Conference. “We’re moving toward the playoffs. We’ll take every point. We were down 2-0 and 3-1 and we kept pushing and finally got some breaks. It could have been better but we’ll take that point.”
Trailing 3-1 with just over 10 minutes to play, the Devils tied it on goals by Parise and Henrique.
Parise cut the deficit to a goal with a great individual effort in front of the net. He deflected a shot by defenseman Bryce Salvador and then outfought defenseman Jake Gardiner to shove the puck into the net at 10:57 for his 29th goal.
Reimer kept Toronto in front with saves on a couple of point shots, but the goalie didn’t have a chance when Henrique tipped a shot by Andy Greene with 4:42 left in regulation to tie it.
Toronto had seemed safe when Steckel snapped a 33-game goal drought by depositing the rebound of a shot by Joey Crabb past Brodeur at 9:25 of the period.
The Maple Leafs, who had been shut out in three of their last seven games, jumped to a 2-0 lead with second-period goals 1:09 apart by Bozak and Kadri, who had been called up from the Marlies of the AHL on Thursday along with Ryan Hamilton.
Bozak opened the scoring at 13:47 with an assist from Henrique. Luke Schenn’s shot from the point hit off Henrique and went right to Bozak to the right of the net for a shot into an open net for his 16th goal.
Hamilton, who was playing in his first NHL game, made a cross-ice pass to Gardiner at the right point a little more than a minute later. The rookie defenseman’s slap shot was redirected into the net by Kardi, who had four goals in 19 games earlier this year before being sent to the minors.
Former Maple Leaf Alexei Ponikarovsky got the Devils back in the game late in the period, skating around Schenn and finding an unguarded Josefson alone in front for his first goal of the season.
Reimer was outstanding in the first period, stopping 18 shots. His best stop was a sliding pad save on Elias after the veteran took a cross-ice pass. Reimer also stopped two good chances by Ilya Kovalchuk between the circles.
Brodeur faced seven shots in the opening period, including a highlight reel stop when he lifted his pads while down in the crease to stop a close-in attempt by Matthew Lombardi.
NOTES: Kadri and Hamilton started on a line with Mikhail Grabovski at center. … The Devils’ 18 shots in the first period were three shy of their season high in a period. … There were two big hits in the third period. Schenn crushed Josefson against the boards right in front of the Devils’ bench and Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov nailed Grabovski with a shoulder to shoulder hit in the New Jersey zone. … Toronto got the only two penalties in the game, but blanked the Devils’ power plays.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)