As the New Jersey Devils approach the 20-game mark, the team’s struggles fall under greater scrutiny as valuable points fall by the wayside. The Devils traveled north of the border to face off against the Toronto Maple Leafs, who won one of their last nine games. But like so many times this season, the Devils couldn’t take advantage of the situation. New Jersey dropped yet another game, losing to the Maple Leafs, 3-1, continuing their horrid start to the season.
Phil Kessel Sinks The Devils
From the drop of the puck, Kessel showed that he would be a force the entire night. He generated some of the better scoring chances, and narrowly missed converting on a powerplay opportunity when he put a puck off the post. But when it mattered most, the former Boston Bruin would bury his opportunity and help defeat the Devils.
The Maple Leafs, who controlled the puck for most of the second period, began a possession in the Devils zone. Rookie Nazem Kadri held the puck along the right point, and found a wide-open Kessel across the ice. The rookie passed the puck through the entire defense and to Kessel at the left circle, who had all the time in the world to pick his spot. The right-winger fired a shot past the pads of Martin Brodeur for his ninth goal of the season and the game-winning goal.
Jonas Gustavsson – No Goals For You!
The Devils faced a golden opportunity tonight, facing an inconsistent Gustavsson instead of Jean-Sebastian Gigure. But the opportunity quickly turned sour, as the Leafs’ goalie came to play tonight. Gustavsson stopped several quality shots tonight, including denying all 12 of the Devils chances in the third period. New Jersey continually tried to bang the puck low on Gustavsson, but the goalie met every challenge with his pads.
Gustavsson finished with 29 saves, allowing one (fluke) goal in the second period. He earned first star honors from the press, and he’s the reason the Maple Leafs controlled the game.
Brodeur and Another Injury Scare
Brodeur, who started his third straight game, was in the zone tonight. The Devils goalie made several great saves, and got beat on some good chances. But as the third period began, a new goalie skated to net for the Devils. Johan Hedberg began the third, and Brodeur took a seat on the bench. Since it wasn’t ineffective play, it had to be an injury. Just like that, the fears of several New Jersey fans spiked from little concern to nervous sweating.
It looked like Brodeur re-injured his elbow during a second period save on Toronto right-winger Mike Brown. After a turnover along the side boards, Mitchell broke in on net. He tried to cut across the front for a stuff attempt, but Brodeur went down to the ice and knocked the puck off of Mitchell’s stick. But as he went down, Brodeur let go of his stick and spun into a curled position. When he got back up to his feet, he slowly picked up the stick. Replays show Brodeur gingerly held the stick and favored his right elbow throughout the rest of the period.
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