November 3, 2011

Toronto Maple Leafs v New Jersey Devils (Recap)

Brodeur was back in the net for the Devils whilst Reimer wasn’t quite back to fitness for the Maple Leafs so Gustavsson remained in net for them.

The first action in this game was at 5.08 as Brad Mills and Mike Brown dropped the gloves to try and inspire some energy into their teams after a lacklustre opening 5 minutes.

It worked for Toronto as with just under 9 minutes gone Joey Crabb scored the 1st of the game as he batted the puck out of the air at the side of the net past a helpless Brodeur.

It was soon tied up at 1-1 as New Jersey got the first powerplay of the game and their first goal. A lovely 1-2 play between Henrique and Zubrus gave the youngster a chance infront of the net which Gustavsson did well to save but Zubrus followed up the play to put the loose puck high over the Maple Leaf netminder.

Gustavsson then pulled off a superb save sliding from one side of the net to the other to deny Palmieri and the Leafs cleared straight back up the other end to take a 2-1 lead. Gardiner made a superb slap pass play through traffic to give Grabovski an easy finish infront, the pass fooling everyone on the ice as the expected the puck in on goal.

The 2nd period started with the Maple Leafs on the powerplay but it was Sykora of the Devils coming out of the penalty box who ended up with a chance going clean in on Gustavsson but the netminder stood strong and made a good save off the chance and then off the rebound as well.

New Jersey then went straight on the powerplay themselves and tied the game again. Kovalchuck patiently setting up the play as he waited for Parise to change his broken stick which lead to Elias getting clear to fire a one timer in past Gustavsson off Phaneuf’s stick.

It wasn’t long before the Maple Leafs had the lead again though as a Komisarek point shot bounced off Connolly infront and landed straight on Lupul’s stick. He fired it into an unguarded net with Brodeur now out of position.

New Jersey came back and tied the game for a 3rd time soon after as Clarkson robbed the Leafs defence and went clean in from the blue line, pulling the puck to his back hand and firing it through Gustavsson.
Lupul scored his 2nd of the game to give the Maple Leafs a 4-3 lead at the mid way point of the 2nd period, firing a puck off a Devils defenseman’s stick which seemed to catch Brodeur out and it went in softly glove side. It was the 4th goal Brodeur had conceded off only 11 shots but he remained inbetween the pipes.
Lupul then got his 3rd goal with just under 7 minutes remaining as a poor pass in the offensive zone by the Devils lead to Kessel leading a 2 on 2 attack with Grabovski. Brodeur saved Kessel’s shot but Grabovski got the rebound under control behind the net and fed it out to Lupul. Brodeur made the save on his 1st attempt but Lupul put the 2nd one past the struggling netminder to complete a 2nd period hat-trick.

There was a 2nd fight of the game with around 2 minutes to go in the period as Schenn and Clarkson went at it after Clarkson put a big hit on the boards. Clarkson seemed to pick up a cut on his nose from his visor in the scuffle.

Brodeur started the 3rd period better as he made a miraculous stick save off Kessel as the Maple Leaf forward was wide open at the side of the net after great play from Connolly to find him. With the goal gaping somehow the future hall of famer managed to get his stick back across and knock the puck out of the air and covered it up.

It was all Toronto through the opening 10 minutes of the 3rd period as the Kessel, Connolly, Lupul line looked dangerous every time they had the puck but Brodeur was standing strong. The Devils killed off a 2 minute penalty pretty easily coming up to the midway point though as they looked to try and swing some momentum back in their favour.

Toronto however shut the gates for the final 10 minutes of the 3rd period, playing a simple but effective chip and chase game that kept the Devils chasing back into their own end to try and find the puck. After that blistering bout of scoring in the 2nd period there were no further goals in this one and the Maple Leafs saw the game off 5-3.

For a game that saw 8 goals, neither team really peppered the shots on net. Brodeur facing 23 and Gustavsson only 22. Both teams were poor defensively at times with the Maple Leafs picking that side of the game up in the 3rd after they had got the 2 goal lead. A thoroughly entertaining game however as Toronto continue their good early season form.

- Adam Yates

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