TORONTO (AP) — Nazem Kadri and James Reimer kept Toronto in the game before the rest of the Maple Leafs won it in the third period.
Kadri scored and added an assist, while Reimer made 28 saves Monday night as Toronto earned a 4-2 comeback victory over the struggling New Jersey Devils.
The 22-year-old Kadri stretched his points streak to five games when he gave the Leafs a 1-0 lead after the first period. But Toronto trailed 2-1 after 40 minutes, despite Reimer’s solid play.
“We talked amongst ourselves and pointed out that those first two periods really weren’t acceptable, and indicated on some of the things we needed to improve on,” said Kadri. “That’s really what it’s about coming in through the intermissions: It’s about resetting and analyzing your 20 minutes of play.
“We understood that we had to beat up on their defensemen a little bit and get pucks in behind them and go to work that way.”
Clarke MacArthur, Jay McClement and Phil Kessel — with his first goal on home ice this season — all scored in the third period for Toronto. Kadri assisted on MacArthur’s winning goal and leads the Leafs with 23 points in 23 games.
“We weren’t very happy with what we were doing for the first 40 minutes of the hockey game, and we were fortunate that we were only down one goal,” said Toronto coach Randy Carlyle. “The tide had really turned and we were paralyzed at some points in the game.
“I think our goaltender gave us a chance, and when we got to the room we just made a decision that we had to start to change a few of the things that were going on out there or it was going to get worse.
“To their credit, they went out and did it.”
Reimer made his first appearance on home ice since Feb. 11, as he recovered from a mild knee ligament strain.
“I felt like I’ve had a couple good days of practice, kind of feel like I’m getting better, getting more comfortable with playing every day,” said Reimer. “It felt pretty good out there.
“It was good to have that third period that we did and be able to get the win.”
Marek Zidlicky scored twice for New Jersey, which hasn’t won in five games. Ryan Carter assisted on both goals. Goalie Johan Hedberg stopped 19 shots for the Devils.
“Sure there’s frustration,” New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer said. “I think the last two nights we’ve held the other team to 22 or 23 shots on the road. We’re getting a couple of goals a game. When you don’t get rewarded for trying to do the right things with wins, it gets frustrating.”
McClement tied the game 2-2 just 39 seconds into the third period. He intercepted Patrik Elias’ pass deep in the Devils’ zone and deked Hedberg, putting the puck on his backhand and past the goaltender.
MacArthur gave the Leafs a 3-2 lead with a power-play goal. MacArthur put his own rebound between Hedberg’s legs after the Devils’ Andrei Loktionov took a tripping penalty.
Kessel connected 2:30 later, scoring his fifth of the season.
Kadri opened scoring just over 10 minutes into the game. The goal was a but fluky, as he shot from a wide angle, bouncing the puck off the inside of Hedberg’s left pad and across the goal line.
“I just wanted to slide it under the stick and (Leo Komarov) was pretty open back there,” said Kadri. “It was actually a good play by their goalie to try and get a stick on it so it wouldn’t go across the crease, and it just ended up squirting through his legs. I’ll take it.”
Zidlicky tied it early in the second period. His wrist shot from the top of the faceoff circle found its way through traffic and over Reimer’s left shoulder.
A costly neutral-zone turnover by Leafs forward Frazer McLaren gave Zidlicky his second of the night nearly 6 minutes later. Zidlicky worked a two-on-one passing play with Ryan Carter, putting it past Reimer for a 2-1 lead.
Notes: Veteran defensemen John-Michael Liles and Mike Komisarek were both healthy scratches for the Leafs. Earlier in the day, Toronto general manager Dave Nonis vehemently denied that Komisarek had requested a trade. … Forwards Matt Frattin (knee) and Joffrey Lupul (fractured forearm) remain on Toronto’s injured reserve. … New Jersey defensemen Peter Harrold and Anthon Volchenkov were healthy scratches, while star goaltender Martin Brodeur remained on the IR with a sore back. The crowd cheered when it was announced before the game that Brodeur would not be playing. … Willie O’Ree, the first black player in the history of the NHLs was in attendance.
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