Postgame Thoughts: Maple Leafs 4, Devils 2

Pat Pickens

It is hard to believe that through 40 minutes on Monday night, the Devils were sitting pretty.

Maybe that’s what makes the Devils’ 4-2 loss — their fifth consecutive defeat– on Monday night at Air Canada

Images like this are becoming the norm for the New Jersey Devils.

Images like this are becoming the norm for the New Jersey Devils during their five-game losing streak.

Centre even more disappointing.

Marek Zidlicky scored two second-period goals, both from Ryan Carter, as New Jersey turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead after two.

But the Maple Leafs potted three third-period goals– including Clarke MacArthur’s power-play goal at 7:25 which served as the game-winner. Toronto won its second straight, improving to 13-9-0 and moving three points ahead of New Jersey in the Eastern Conference standings

The Devils lead eighth-seeded Philadelphia by only two points. The Devils out-shot Toronto 30-23, but James Reimer made 28 saves.

Patrik Elias is really scuffling throughout this stretch.

Elias was pointless for the fourth time in five games, was a minus-2, and his atrocious giveaway early in the third period allowed Toronto to tie the score.

You’d like to see New Jersey make safe plays, playing with a one-goal edge, but Elias tried to make a cross-ice pass that Jay McClement stole. He banked his back-hand shot off the post and Hedberg, tying the score.

Elias did have New Jersey’s best non-scoring opportunity, but Reimer stoned him with the pad late in the third.

Though Zidlicky scored twice, he got caught on Phil Kessel’s insurance goal.

Zidlicky scored his second goal on the rush late in the second, and I guess he thought he’d drive the net and try to create a chance again. But Reimer blockered the pass away, Carl Gunnarsson cleared the puck sending Kessel and New Jersey native James van Riemsdyk on a two-on-one break. van Riemsdyk’s saucer pass found Kessel, who beat Hedberg.

Give Zidlicky some credit though. The offensive defender, who entered Monday’s game with just one goal in 22 games, made two nice plays to put the Devils up. His goal from the off wing put New Jersey on the board, and his drive to the net– after Carter found him with a great pass– gave the Devils the lead at 11:18 of the second.

Hedberg was OK, but again, he really wasn’t good enough.

Hedberg tried a poke check on MacArthur’s winner, and the Leafs’ forward beat him between the pads. Kadri’s first-period goal was a bank in, as was McClement’s.

At this rate, even with a bad back, Brodeur can’t return soon enough. Eighty percent of Marty has got to be better than either Hedberg or Keith Kinkaid.

Unfortunately, Brodeur won’t return Tuesday.

Nazem Kadri did it again for the Leafs

Kadri recorded another two-point night, scoring a goal and assisting on MacArthur’s game winner.

He’s quickly turning into a stud.

New Jersey also hit the post three times Monday night. When it rains it pours, I guess.

The Devils’ penalty kill was stellar on New Jersey’s road trip, thwarting its first 12 shorthanded chances against.

Yet, that unlucky number 13 doomed the Devils.

Just seconds after Andrei Loktionov was booked for hooking, MacArthur beat Hedberg, putting the Leafs ahead.

A reporter asked Pete Deboer last Sunday if it was a good time to go on the road.

Deboer coyly answered “we’ll see how it goes.”

New Jersey was 0-2-1 on its three-game road trip and returns home having won just two of its last 10 games.

The Devils are the East’s No. 7 team but still only trail first-place Pittsburgh by five points. New Jersey will face another struggling squad, Tampa Bay, Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Prudential Center.