NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Rookie Leo Komarov and Tyler Bozak scored and the Toronto Maple Leafs extended the reeling New Jersey Devils’ losing streak to six games with a 2-1 victory on Saturday night.
James Reimer made 27 saves as the Maple Leafs strengthened their position in the tight Eastern Conference playoff race. The Maple Leafs are 5th in the East, seven points ahead of the Devils, who are now three points behind the eighth-place New York Islanders and the postseason cutoff.
David Clarkson deprived Reimer of his second shutout in three games with a goal with 8:23 left, but the Devils fell to 0-3-3 in their last six games.
The six-game skid is the second one this season for New Jersey, following an 8-1-3 start. The Devils haven’t won since top forward Ilya Kovalchuk injured a shoulder.
Komarov scored early in the first period to stake Toronto to a 1-0 lead, and Bozak tallied midway through the third to double the advantage.
Komarov’s second goal was scored when he deflected a shot from the point by defenseman Mark Fraser past defenseless Devils goalie Martin Brodeur. The 26-year-old Komarov had missed the previous six games because of an upper body injury.
Bozak’s 11th goal of the season was a little fluky. He took a lead pass from Phil Kessel, broke in on Brodeur and nudged a shot on goal. Brodeur got the blade of his stick on the puck, but it popped up and rolled into the net before Steve Bernier could stop it.
Clarkson beat Reimer with a shot between the pads after defenseman Marek Zidlicky made a pass to spring him for a break in.
The only reason the Devils weren’t ahead after the first period was Reimer. He made outstanding stops on Adam Henrique from the left circle and on a couple of chances in front by Stephen Gionta. His best save was an uncontested pad stop on a rebound attempt by Steve Sullivan, who was acquired by the Devils on Wednesday from Phoenix for a second tour with New Jersey.
Brodeur, who made his eighth straight start since returning from a back injury, didn’t have much work but he kept the goal-challenged Devils in the game with an in-close stop on Kessel.
Both teams hit a goal post in the first period.
Devils defenseman Mark Fayne had his shot from the right point hit someone in the circle and deflect off the post. Clarke MacArthur hit the post late in the period.
The Maple Leafs played without Joffrey Lupul, who was out with an undisclosed injury sustained on Thursday against Philadelphia. He had five goals and five assists in his last five games.
NOTES: Kovalchuk is close to returning, coach Pete DeBoer said. — Maple Leafs leading scorer Nazem Kadri appeared to hurt his left knee after being tripped by Fayne in the second period. He was down on the ice for a while but returned soon after. — The 38-year-old Sullivan played parts of two seasons with the Devils from 1995-1997. He later played for Toronto.
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