NEWARK, NJ — The Toronto Maple Leafs ended the New Jersey Devils’ 13-game winning streak with a 2-1 victory at the Prudential Center on Wednesday.
The Devils, who tied their franchise-record winning streak with a 5-2 victory against the Edmonton Oilers on Monday, lost for the first time since Oct. 24 (6-3 to the Washington Capitals).
“It wasn’t our best start, and we’ve had a couple of starts like that during this run and came up either down one or tied, but they’re a good team,” New Jersey forward Erik Haula said. “They put the puck in the net twice and then we’re behind, but we fought, and I thought we left everything out there and finished strong.
“Unfortunately, the streak is over.”
John Tavares and Pontus Holmberg scored, and Matt Murray made 34 saves for Toronto (11-5-5), which has a six-game point streak (4-0-2).
“We needed to get a win here today, no matter who we’re playing,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “I mean, that’s a tremendous hockey team over there and they deserve everything that they’ve gotten here to date. It’s a character win for our team, given what we’re going through here and to do it on the road against this team with how they’ve been playing, with that type of push and in the atmosphere here tonight, this is a real good day for the Leafs.”
Video: [email protected]: Tavares buries beautiful pass from Marner
Dougie Hamilton scored, and Vitek Vanecek made 18 saves for New Jersey (16-4-0), which had three goals disallowed.
“It’s definitely frustrating, but nothing we can do because the refs make the call and there’s nothing that’s going to change it, so we’ve got to stick with it,” Devils captain Nico Hischier said. “I think we did a good job but came up short.”
Tavares gave the Maple Leafs a 1-0 lead at 11:41 of the first period from the slot after Mitchell Marner‘s backhand pass from behind the net.
Holmberg’s first NHL goal made it 2-0 at 14:03. He scored from the bottom of the left face-off circle off a turnover along the left boards. The forward was playing his sixth NHL game.
“I think we lost the game in the first period,” Hischier said. “We were not good enough with the puck and had too many turnovers.”
Murray made 16 saves in the second period, stopping nine shots on two New Jersey power plays.
“I think we played unbelievable defensively, and I thought our first period kind of set us up for the win tonight,” Murray said. “They had momentum throughout the second with a lot of power plays, but our first period is where we really got the job done and were able to hold on.
“At the end of the game, they’re just gritty so anything you can do to try to keep the puck out of the net, because they were really pushing.”
Hamilton scored on a deflection from the slot at 14:52 of the third period for the 2-1 final.
“Nobody feels good, I don’t feel good, I don’t like the feeling,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. “I don’t like losing and I know it’s been a while, but you don’t want that feeling. Now you’ve got to get over that, get ready for your next game, be able to answer the bell and continue to prove we can be the team that was able to run all those games together.”
Video: [email protected]: Hamilton directs a pass up and into the net
New Jersey’s first disallowed goal was for goaltender interference at 7:35 of the first period Jonas Siegenthaler‘s shot from the point was deflected into the net. After video review, it was determined that Nathan Bastian‘s presence in the crease impaired Murray’s ability to play his position.
The Devils had a goal disallowed at 4:52 of the second period when Murray was bumped off his skates by Tomas Tatar after playing the puck at the right post.
A third goal was disallowed when it was determined Haula kicked the puck to help propel it into the net at the right post at 8:53 of the third period. Murray made the initial save against Haula, who then kicked the rebound that deflected off the Maple Leafs forward Nicholas Robertson and over the goal line.
“The puck squirts to me and I’m trying to get it to my stick … just trying to get it in play,” Haula said. “It goes off of their guy and into the net, so it’s an unfortunate rule. I’m sure every player would agree it’s a little bit frustrating.”
NOTES: Toronto acquired defenseman Conor Timmins in a trade with the Arizona Coyotes for forward prospect Curtis Douglas on Wednesday. Timmins is expected to be in the lineup at the Minnesota Wild on Friday. … Maple Leafs defenseman Jordie Benn left the game in the third period with an upper-body injury. He will be reevaluated Thursday. … With an assist, Marner extended his NHL career-high point streak to 14 games (three goals, 16 assists). … Toronto forward William Nylander had a six-game point streak end. … Maple Leafs defenseman Mac Hollowell had one blocked shot and one hit in 12:26 of ice time in his NHL debut. … The Devils are 9-1-0 against Canada-based teams this season.