The Toronto Maple Leafs scored three third period goals to overtake the New Jersey Devils 4-2 on Monday night. The Devils were one point back of the Leafs for sixth in the Eastern Conference, so the win was important for Toronto as it put some separation between the two teams.
After playing poorly in their last home outing against the Montreal Canadiens, the Leafs rebounded with a late push to secure a crucial home win. Here are a few things that stood out from the game.
Kadri keeps on rolling
Nazem Kadri is now playing with a ton of confidence and he is asserting himself all over the ice. Not only did he have a goal and assist with three shots on net against the Devils, but he also played a much more physical game than normal. Kadri threw a couple of big hits, including one on Devils defenseman Adam Larsson, that seemed to spark the Leafs. After his dominant performance last week against the New York Islanders, Kadri should be able to carry that confidence with him the rest of the season.
McClement continues to impress
Jay McClement has quietly been a steady player for the Leafs all year, and one of the more underrated signings of this past off-season. On this night he scored the tying goal early in the third that started the Leafs’ comeback. His ability to play at both ends of the rink were on full display Monday as he recorded three shots and then helped out defensively with two blocks. Head coach Randy Carlyle is starting to rely on McClement more and more, and he saw 16-plus minutes of ice against the Devils.
This game is a good illustration of what good goaltending can do for you. James Reimer stopped 28 of 30 shots and kept the Leafs in the game long enough for them to mount a rally. Meanwhile at the other end, Johan Hedberg, who was in for an injured Martin Brodeur, gave up a few questionable goals that really cost New Jersey. In recent years the Leafs would have been on the wrong side of this equation far too often.
Fourth line being exposed
Carlyle has been using his tough guys rather frequently this season and although they played ok during stretches, they now seem to be struggling. On Monday the line of Dave Steckel, Colton Orr, and Frazer McLaren were a combined minus-6 and on the ice for both New Jersey goals. Steckel adds a little bit of value with his ability in the face-off circle, but the other two may be seeing more time in the press box now that Mike Brown has been dealt and Matt Frattin as well as Joffrey Lupul will be returning soon.